22 year old Josemar Octavio who will become the first mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter from Namibia to compete at the Extreme Fighting Championships says he is focused on nothing but victory.
Originally from Angola, Octavio’s discovery of MMA might have been one of luck, but he says he it has helped him grow as a well-rounded fighter. MMA is a contact sport that allows kicking, striking and grappling techniques from a variety of other sports and martial art disciplines.
“When I was a kid, my brothers used to do karate, but for some reason my mother did not allow me to do that. But I had a secret love for combat sport. So in 2009 I registered myself at a kickboxing academy in Luanda,” he says.
He says he used to hide it from his family and would sneak out of the house to go for training. However, when his mother found out about it, six months after he started, she understood his love for kickboxing and allowed to continue to chase his passion.
“My first tournament was in 2011, The Kickboxing Championship in Angola which I won for the Flyweight category weighting in at 58 Kg,” he recalls. That qualified him participate in the African Championships which were being hosted by Madagascar, however the championships were called off due to unknown reasons, which he suspects were political in nature.
Octavio came to Namibia in 2013 in a bid to further his studies. Earlier this year, he completed a course in Software Development at the ILSA College and is registered for the same course at the Institute of Information Technology (IIT) in Klein Windhoek.
He says after growing increasingly tired of training on his own at home as there were no kickboxing gyms in Namibia, he was informed about the MMA Vale Tudo Namibia Fight Club in Avis. There he was introduced to Carlos De Sousa, owner of Vale Tudo and eventually his coach.
“Through my coach, Carlos, my vision for martial arts extended. I only knew kickboxing. I didn’t know how to grapple, or jud-jitsu, but through him and the club, I have been able to extend my fighting knowledge,” he says.
As kickboxing is his background that is still his preferred fighting style. Currently a red belt in kickboxing, the IT student says he could have gotten a black belt had he remained in Angola. But as his mother taught him, “You put God first, and studies second. School is very important as it ensures that you will always have something to fall back on.”
His first fight out of Vale Tudo Namibia was Fightstar 8 MMA tournament in South Africa, Johannesburg in May 2014 where he won via technical knockout (TKO) in the first round, over South African, JP Maree. This victory earned him a record for the fastest knockout at Fightstar history after he achieved it in 14 seconds. The record, he says, still stands today.
His last fight was in December 2014 again at Fightstar 9 tournament, another victory, this time over South African, Tyler Normandis.
Through his coach, De Sousa and fellow fighters such as Iris Rodriguez, Armand Stein and others, he says he has learned a great deal to prepare himself for his EFC debut.
However he says his biggest challenge is the distance from his family, who are in Angola. “I am far from my family. I don’t really feel the support as someone would get from their family. But I use that as motivation for my dream. I know it will make them very proud,” he says.
Looking ahead of his EFC fight, he says, “I am fully focused and I know my opponent is too and he’s training, just as I am. I know it will be a nice fight. My goal is to get the victory.”
On MMA in Namibia, Octavio says he is encouraged by its steady growth but wishes it was bigger. “I have learned a lot from MMA. It has made me more humble. I think to myself, if I know how to do something, someone else can do it too. MMA has taught me how to keep myself out of trouble,” he says.
Octavio is set to make his debut and open the EFC 41 card against Fight Fit Militia’s JP Buys on 11 July.