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From beating bullies to nurturing ninjas

Taekwondo star reflects on the stunning rise

At the age of 22, William Rampeba is already a mentor in the high-flying, all-action sport of Taekwondo.

Having first taken up the sport back in 2013, the charismatic youngster has enjoyed a steady rise through the ranks, fighting his way to the top of local taekwondo with the same ease that he employs his jumping spinning kicks.

His is confident the sport is on the verge of a breakthrough in Botswana.

Speaking to Voice Sport this week, the Serowe native explained taekwondo is a fast-paced martial art that involves more elaborate, spectacular kicks compared to its karate cousin.

“Taekwondo is a martial arts sport originating from Korea which involves kicking. It is a full-contact sport whereas karate is a less contact sport, and they do not exert too much power as compared to taekwondo,” Rampeba highlighted, noting the sport is divided into three categories.

“Poomsae, which is more of patterns, Kyorugi, which is fighting and Gyeokpa, which is breaking.”

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Breaking taekwondo down further, he explained that bouts usually involve three two-and-a-half-minute rounds.

“Scoring differs from the points you hit on the body of an opponent. A turning kick is three points, the round kick is two points and if you touch the head it can be three or five points depending on how big the competition is,” he continued, his excitement evident as he talks about the sport he loves.

“My passion for this sport began from a young age. I used to have trouble with bullies and I saw taekwondo as a way to learn how to defend myself,” said Rampeba, adding he swiftly sent his tormentors packing after learning a few simple moves.

Although he is still an active player, today Rampeba’s attention is equally focused on coaching as he looks to guide the country’s next generation of stars.

A part-time coach for Tigers Taekwondo Club, it is a role he thrives at.

“I decided to venture into part-time coaching back in 2016. My focal point is kids from the ages of four to 13, which has been a success thus far. My plan is to embark on school tours outside greater Gaborone to raise awareness of the sport at grassroots levels. Moreover, I am going to make it a point that we increase our participation in international competitions so that Botswana gets on map,” he said.

On a personal level, Rampeba is in little doubt as to his greatest achievement during his seven years in taekwondo to date.

“My biggest accomplishment so far is attending an International Taekwondo Master course in Korea last year. It was a great experience as I got to make contacts which I normally share ideas with and help grow the sport locally.”

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More recently and Rampeba and two of his protégés, Thato Kebonamang and Panashe Motshwari, enjoyed success at the Idso Cup 2020 Indian Taekwondo Virtual Championships.

“The tournament was hosted on the 29th and 30th of August. Online registration was conducted and videos were submitted onto YouTube by participating individuals. Those videos were played against every opponent according to categories and international judges presided over the winners looking at the technique. I and Thato scooped Gold medals whereas Panashe collected a Bronze medal,” revealed Rampeba, sporting a golden smile to match his golden achievement.

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