This week Female Fighters Africa speaks with 29-year-old Sensei Sharleen Amoda, a third Dan black belt and highest ranked female karateka in Zimbabwe. Sharleen’s responsibilities do not end with training, competing and teaching full contact karate. Above all she is a wife and mother of two children. In this interview, Sharleen shares her story of how she came to train karate, as well as some of her challenges, goals and achievements. Sharleen, you are a blazing inspiration for women in martial arts on the African continent. We honour you for the work you do!
FFA: How did you discover karate? Tell us the story that brought you there.
SA: When l was around six or seven years old, during most of my play time l played street soccer and street tennis. l would also go to our local community centres in the high density suburb of Mufakose to watch guys training karate. When l was about nine years of age, that is when l got the guts to enter into a karate dojo and actually train. By that time l was able to kick, punch and do the first three katas.
FFA: What is one of the biggest lessons you have learnt in the sport?
SA: I know now how to manage my life and my family. It also pushes me to do better in everything I do.
FFA: Tell us about your most memorable fight?
SA: It was in South Africa in November 2015 at the WKFO Tournament. I travelled the night before that tournament. When l arrived there they gave me an hour to rest. Just after that hour they called my name out. This was my first time fighting in South Africa. I got onto the tatami and l faced my opponent. She was very tall and in my mind l said to myself, “This is the end of me.” When the referee told us to fight, my opponent raised a front kick to my face so l moved to my right side, made a step forward and l gave her a double shot punch. She fell on the ground and the fight ended.
FFA: What is your schedule like?
SA: I wake up at 5am in the morning and go for a jog. I come back home to wake up my kids and prepare them for school. After that I go to the gym. By 11am l have to be back home to do house chores like cleaning the house and doing the laundry, and then l prepare my children’s lunch. By 4pm l leave home to go and teach karate at a local community hall in my home area. By 6pm l have to be at Shihan Tendai Marange’s dojo for training. After training l go home, take a shower, and then off to bed.
FFA: What do you love most about your work in karate?
SA: Getting to see myself, my students and everyone around grow in confidence in everything they do.
FFA: Who are your role models?
SA: My uncles, because karate started with them in our family. I just took over, taking it to a higher magnitude. Shihan Tendai Marange is also significant, for he is the one who moulded me into the karateka I am today. And lastly, Saiko Sensei Samson Muripo is a role model for me, for he has made history as the first Zimbabwean to become a world champion. I want to reach that level too.
FFA: Any upcoming projects?
SA: On 22 July of this year we are having the first international tournament in Zimbabwe.
FFA: Do you have any message you would like to give to other women and girls in karate and other martial arts in Zimbabwe and on the African continent?
SA: To the ladies, I say work hard to reach our goals. In Zimbabwe martial arts may not put food on our tables, but let’s go on and do it.