PDBY spoke to wrestler Rozani Honiball, a South African title wrestler who only took up wrestling at the age of 24, about her life in and out of wrestling.

Who is Rozani Honiball?

I studied Industrial Psychology. My trade by day is as a consultant, and I also do part time personal training and teach kids Jiu Jitsu classes. I love having a job that gives me time to do sports, I love my family, and I love my dogs – they make my world a better place. My purpose is to have a positive influence on the people I meet.

You started with wrestling in your twenties, which some may consider to be late. How did you first get into wrestling?

I started training Jiu Jitsu late 2016, as my training and knowledge for the sport grew, I knew I had to work on my takedowns. Jiu Jitsu, just like wrestling is a grappling art, the main focus is on the ground, wrestling has its focus on takedowns hence getting to the ground to get the first advantage. I started only wanting to learn so I can improve my Jiu Jitsu, but I enjoyed the challenge of wrestling so much that I decided to train full time and learn to wrestle well. I called our local club in Klerksdorp in 2018 and never looked back. Considering my age, I see it as an advantage. I am a lot smarter than I was when I was younger and only doing hockey my whole life, my body hasn’t taken too much punishment. I feel good, healthy and strong, age for me is truly just a number.

Who had the greatest influence/impact on your life and where it is headed right now?

My mom. She has always believed in any crazy dream I have had. It is because of her that I have the courage to take on any challenge. She is my number one supporter and my strength pillar. I honestly try not to think too much of the future, I try to take each day and make the best of it.

What do you enjoy doing off the mats?

For fun I love spending time with my dogs and my friends. I love being active so on weekends. I always try to do something outdoors, since I am new in Pretoria. I like to explore the city on weekends, which has been really fun.

When did you decide you wanted to join TuksWrestling?

As we all know it’s been a confusing 2020. I moved to Pretoria for better opportunities. My coach and friend from Klerksdorp, Tanki Tau, moved a few months after me to coach at Tuks wrestling. I was so excited to hear the news and I knew immediately that I was going to go where he is. Tuks wrestling is one of the best in the country. I am so excited to join them; I know they are going to help me get better and I cannot wait to learn from them.

What are your future plans for wrestling? Where are you going and how do you plan to get there?

I want to really get good at wrestling. I still want to compete for a few years and see how far I can take it. The only way to get good is to put the time on the mats, so I plan to train hard. In the future I would love to coach kids and help grow the sport, especially for girls and women.

Contrary to popular belief, wrestling is a brains over brawn sport. How do you keep your brain engaged during a match despite any blows you might be taking?

Wrestling is definitely both brains and brawn. It’s all about the work you put in before the match. How well you prepare for a match (mentally and physically) will determine the outcome. In wrestling what you put in is what you will get out. With good preparation your mind will follow your body.

Who do you look up to in the industry and why? My favorite wrestler is Helen Maroulis. She overcame so many battles to win her olympic gold, her story is truly inspiring, and she is the product of hard work and determination.

Being a female in a male dominated environment can’t be easy, who is your closest friend in the industry? Tanki – my coach and friend. He taught me everything I know. He has cornered all of my matches. I am so grateful to have him as a coach and a friend. He believed in me and it made me believe in myself. He is one of my biggest inspirations.

A lot of times there aren’t girls in your weight class at competitions. How do you think this can/should be addressed? We need to get girls to wrestle, promotion is key. I think there are a lot of misconceptions around wrestling, and getting the word out and talking about the benefits, especially for girls/ women, will attract more numbers.

What would you say to young girls who want to join wrestling like you? Do it. You won’t regret it. Wrestling will teach you so many things about yourself. It is going to push you and teach you to thrive under pressure. You are going to see the benefits mentally, physically and emotionally, the benefits are numerous. The greatest of all is you will know how to defend yourself which is a valuable tool especially in South Africa where gender-based violence is a big issue.

Who do you enjoy working with on the mats most? Training with friends and learning new throws always gets my blood pumping. It is hard and challenging and that makes it so rewarding.

What is your favorite match that you’ve been in? The ones I have lost. I learned the most from them and they have made me better. I learned from my faults and knew what I had to fix

. What has been your biggest achievement so far? For me it is not quitting, I was literally thrown around for the first six months, it did not come naturally. I had to work hard to get better and had to preserve to not give up.

What are you currently working towards? What do you have lined up? I joined Constrictor Jiu-Jitsu in Pretoria, and Tuks Wrestling. At the moment I am waiting to start training for wrestling, the Jiu Jitsu is open now with COVID-19 regulations. The wrestling has not yet begun. This year has taught me to be patient and go with the flow. I just want to improve and get better.

Again, as a female in a male dominated environment, what are your thoughts on the issues of sexual harassment of females in the industry? I think sexual harassment is a issue in most industries. The wrestling community has only shown me kindness and respect. So far it has only encouraged and empowered me. Unfortunately there will always be bad people in the world but I do feel that contact sports is an amazing tool for self-defence and can be used for good. There are amazing coaches out there who empower women and help them to overcome adversity.

Where should we look for you in ten years’ time? I hope to be on the mats teaching girls self defence, wrestling, and Jiu-Jitsu.

Images: Provided

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