When the lockdown was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March, the entire country came to a standstill. A lot has changed. People are losing lives, losing their loved ones and losing their livelihoods. It is safe to say that everyone is in need of some good news.

Amidst worldwide protests on racial issues, TuksWrestling has taken a step in the right direction, as they hired their first black coach in the history of TuksWrestling during a global pandemic, a time when most organisations are letting people go. However, he could not start working due to the lockdown, and TuksWrestling has helped secure Tanki Tau employment.

24-year-old Tanki Tau came 3rd after competing in the African Senior Championships in Tunisia earlier this year. However, when the national lockdown began and sporting activities came to a halt, the freestyle wrestler was effectively unemployed for the foreseeable future.

Chairman of TuksWrestling, Renier Boshoff, says it was a no brainer, indicating that the moment TuksWrestling heard about his problems, they were eager to hire him because they believe in his talent as one of the best wrestlers in the country. In his interview with TuksSport earlier this month, Boshoff said, “we identified Tau as one of South Africa’s most talented wrestlers. That is why we recruited him. We believe he is good enough to compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. But there is more to Tanki. He is also a qualified coach. There is nothing he enjoys more than to get youngsters equally as excited about the sport he loves.”

Thanks to TuksWrestling, Tau is now working at Rosslyn Pallets and Crates and his accommodation is sponsored by his employer. Tau, who was raised in the Rethabile Children’s Home, says as a child he aspired to become a boxer until Jannie Taljaard, who is the chairman of the Klerksdorp Wrestling Club, convinced him to take up wrestling after a friend invited him to wrestling practice. Taljaard is more than just the chairman of a wrestling club – Tau describes him as a mentor.

“‘Oom Jannie’ is a mentor on and off the mats. Through his guidance, I got to appreciate the concept of ‘wax on wax off’. He made me realise that success does not just happen. You got to put in the long hard hours if you want your dreams to become a reality,” says Tau.

Tau’s resilience is what Taljaard admires about him. He helped him attend international coaching courses and unknowingly saved him from potentially going through a pandemic unemployed. “Initially Tanki lost more bouts than he would win. However, he never allowed himself to become discouraged. Losing actually motivated him. It is that ability to persevere that in the end stood him to good stead. The more confident he got in his own skills, the more he started to hate the idea of losing.”

Tau will possibly compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and show off his ‘forever gentlemanliness’, as Taljaard describes Tau’s refusal to humiliate his opponents in a match.


 Photo: Reg Caldecott. Provided.

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