LG’s own Karate Kid wins flood of praise
15 February 2010 | By Luke McLeod-Roberts
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There is a scene in Bruce Lee’s first US film Marlowe in which the kung fu icon accidentally jumps off the top of a skyscraper during a fight scene.
As head of security at LG, Sthe Majozi is responsible for anything from monitoring the contractors fitting out the firm’s South Bank building to reacting to emergencies such as the flooding of the firm’s basement (The Lawyer.com, 30 April 2008).
Although the Middleweight British Karate champion finds that the alertness and deftness honed through the martial art come in handy for his day job, he has so far avoided any rooftop tussles.
“Karate teaches you discipline and respect,” he says in the syncopated English of his native South Africa. “I look at staff and I don’t think they respect me because they’re scared of me, but because I respect them.”
Majozi grew up in Empangeni, a small town approximately two and a half hours north of Durban. This was during apartheid, and so sport provided an outlet from poverty and segregation. “It was the only way to grow up and be the man you wanted to be,” Majozi says.
His mother was an avid ballroom and Latin dancer and wanted her son to be her stage partner. Majozi joined her with reluctance, as his real ambition was to follow in the footsteps (and flying kicks) of his hero, Lee. “[As a child] you always think you’re going to fly like Bruce Lee, you don’t realise you can’t,” Majozi admits with a laugh.
Twenty years on and he may not be flying literally, but it is fair to say that the string of opponents Majozi has defeated on the mat may suspect he has something akin to superhuman qualities. Having fought at local and national levels in South Africa, he says he was well-known there when he arrived in the UK seven years ago.
Majozi believes his spell in the UK has helped improve his craft. “Since I came to this country I’ve improved almost 100 per cent,” he says. “I’ve had the opportunity to go to Europe to see other fighters.”
The 32-year-old won both the Lightweight Champion title in the English Kyokushin and subsequently the Middleweight division of the British Open Knockdown Karate Championships. Next year he is off to Japan to represent the UK in the Kyokushinkai Karate World Championships.
He is currently set on bagging the Lightweight title in the seventh Balkan Championship, to be held in Greece in seven weeks. “I’m looking one step at a time at what’s in front of me,” he says.
For anyone considering emulating Majozi’s success, take note of his gruelling daily schedule. While the ’big freeze’ grounded trains, planes and probably several of his colleagues, Majozi is sanguine about getting up every day at 4am to go running. He follows that with what most people would regard as sufficient exercise for a week by cycling 35 minutes to work.
The day is punctuated by a spell of ’bag work’ during lunchtime, before he leaves at 7pm to do two and a half hours of power training. Weekends involve more training - and no alcohol.
Of course, Majozi has to be flexible to the demands of his job - and in particular a spell of water-related issues.
The April 2008 flood was followed by another flooding last May. Majozi received a 2am phonecall, forcing him to turn up at work in the middle of the night to three feet of water.
More recently a pregnant employee’s waters broke in the office. “I had to rush to make sure she was okay, giving her towels, making sure she was lying down and getting her to the hospital very quickly,” he recalls.
This loyalty is reciprocated by considerable support from the firm, which not only recognised him at its internal awards ceremony with the Inspiration gong “for his spirit of achievement, selflessness and commitment”, but is part sponsor of the Greek Championship he is competing in.
“Almost 95 per cent of staff here know my name,” he asserts proudly . “The support I get is increasing. I don’t have words to describe it. [Senior partner] Penny Francis will always ask me about the results of my competitions and wants to put them on the website. This is my second home.”
And what of his first home, some 6,000 miles away on the shores of the Indian Ocean? “I always update my family - they wish me the best,” he says, adding that his mother has given up trying to drag him onto the dancefloor.