BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
ZIMBABWE-BORN South Africa rugby legend Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira has revealed that he has given his life to inspiring young Africans to chase their dreams following a successful career which culminated in a World Cup triumph in 2019.
Mtawarira, who retired from international rugby days after lifting the Rugby World Cup, also expressed a desire to feature on World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in a live Instagram chat with Ghana-born American WWE superstar Kofi Kingston.
The most capped Springbok prop, who joined US Major League Rugby side Old Glory DC a little over a year ago, has been in South Africa since April last year following the Covid-19 outbreak.
Kingston and Mtawarira were conversing about the similarities of their inspiring success stories.
“I can relate in so many ways to you because you wanted to achieve an impossible dream, as they say, and we made it possible. The bigger picture is to inspire African young kids to chase their dreams like us,” Mtawarira said.
“For me, the greater part of my legacy is to unlock the potential in the next African future leaders. That’s what it’s all about now, helping the next guy to make it, the next girl, so I can relate to you in so many ways,” the 35-year-old added.
Mtawarira left Zimbabwe as a teenager in chase of a rugby dream and managed to achieve his dream to become one of the best players in the world.
Apart from being a Rugby World Champion, Beast is a Castle Lager Rugby Championship winner and Currie Cup winner with the Sharks while he has 117 caps with the Springboks, making him the third most capped Springbok of all time behind Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana.
Kofi (39) moved with his family from Ghana to the US to become the first African-born WWE Champion at Wrestlemania 35 in 2019.
He has won 21 WWE Championships over the course of his career which includes the WWE Championship, WWE Intercontinental, WWE United States Championship, Raw Tag Team and SmackDown Championships.
“I was born and raised in Zimbabwe and from an early age I knew I was gifted in the sport. And back in Zimbabwe there wasn’t really an opportunity to go professional so the closest place for me to go was South Africa.
“I had always been a fan of South Africa rugby and I had to move over here to realise that dream. I made that move when I was 18 years old. I had to come to SA to Durban by the East Coast and I had to work really hard to realise that dream and I am grateful
“It was always my dream to be a World Champion and throughout my journey I always worked so hard because I wanted to be the best player in the world and for you to attain that you have to be a world champion. In my career I worked hard for 12 years to achieve that goal and I am so grateful that I realised it and I can’t even explain how it feels to be world champion,” the former Churchill High School and Peterhouse College star said.
Mtawarira also revealed how got the nickname “Beast” at Prospect Primary School in Harare which has stuck on him to this day.
“It’s a funny story. I got the nickname ‘beast’ when I was nine years old back in Zimbabwe in primary school and it was pretty much because I was much bigger than the kids in my class in my stream and I was quite aggressive.
“So my best friend at the time decided to come up with a nickname. I think X-man came into the picture and before I knew it they named me Beast and it has stuck since I was nine years old and I am 35 now and people call me Beast. It’s still surreal,” he said.
Kingston suggested that Mtawarira could make a WWE superstar because of his name and also his big frame.
“I have been a fan of WWE since I was little kid and it would be amazing to realise something like that. Like I said, I looked up to guys like Hulk Hogan, The rock and for me to have an opportunity to come to the WWE even on a once-off appearance I would be so excited.
“I think it’s one of the most incredible television shows out there and a lot of African kids get to watch the WWE and now to actually have an opportunity to come to the WWE, I would relish that, I would be excited. Let’s see what happens, maybe you can open some doors!” Mtawarira said.
Interestingly Kingston is not the first wrestling superstar to suggest that Mtawarira could make a career in one of the most loved entertainment sports.
Mtawarira is actually friends with John Layfield, a three-time WWF, Tag Team Champion, WWE Championship and Intercontinental winner popularly known as JBL.
“I know JBL pretty well. I met him when I was in DC and he is a big rugby fan that is how we met and he was actually saying it would be great to have the Beast on WWE imagine that,” Mtawarira chuckled.
Mtawarira was supposed to spend the whole of last year in the US playing for Old Glory DC after signing a one-year contract, but the coronavirus outbreak saw him spending the year with his family in South Africa.
“I have been in South Africa since April 2020 because of this pandemic. I had to come back to my family. I think it’s been the biggest positive from this lockdown, spending time with my wife and my kids and getting to reflect, take a pause and know what’s important,” Mtawarira said.