Mpho Madi in action against an opponent.
JOHANNESBURG - Mpho Madi is South Africa&39;s leading female wrestler and has recently been elected as the first female Vice President of Eastern Gauteng Wrestling Association and the first black woman on the executive of a provincial body.
In her new position along with Jeanne-Marie Coetzer who also represented South Africa at international wrestling competitions, Madi hopes to pave the way for future generations by developing future female wrestlers.
“I will be working with Jeanne in assisting her to develop female wrestling in our country. I coach the little ones too and I’m hoping in the future, I will have an all-female wrestling club.”
The wrestler, who did not have an easy upbringing, has been wrestling since 2005 and competing at international level since 2007.
"I grew up in four places. Firstly, at the Van Ryn Place of Safety - I went there as a baby right after birth from the hospital. I stayed there until I was two-years-old and then got adopted by the Madi family. I stayed with the Madi family until I was eight-years-old, then I was moved to Chance Children’s Home where I stayed until I was 12-years-old. Then I moved to Kids Haven in the year 2000,” Madi said.
Madi grew up playing soccer and netball at Kids Haven before joining the Benoni Wrestling Club and later, the Boksburg Wrestling Club.
“I have recently stopped wrestling. I am now focusing on coaching, giving my knowledge back to the young athletes.”
Madi says the sport is losing a lot of senior athletes because there is no financial benefit, so wrestlers end up choosing stability over their passion.
"In wrestling, no one gets paid and I think that is the only reason we lose such a lot of senior athletes. They can’t afford to give their whole day of training and still have to put food on the table. There is just not enough time to get both done in a day. So if athletes were paid fairly, then we would still have a lot of woman athletes around."
The wrestler, who won bronze at the Commonwealth Games, says the media only gives athletes coverage once they win an Olympic gold medal when they actually need the support from the onset.
"Women in sports are not given enough media coverage, only when you get an Olympic medal then they give you the attention. It (media attention) was needed before the medal."
- Palesa Manaleng