By PAUL MINGA
IT takes some courage for a total stranger to approach a famous person for a simple chat as strangers and unwanted people have been turned away or refused by famous people like millionaires, singers, actors, top bureaucrats, politicians, sports personalities and others.
I recently managed to garner enough courage to meet world champion and PNG sports icon Stanley Nandex and that in fact is something memorable for me which I will not easily forget.
It was Saturday April 25, another usual hot day in Port Moresby. I left my shanty home at 5-Mile ridge at around midday for a one kilometre walk across to Jackson Airport. It was just another aimless walk as I was led by my heart’s desire.
While at the airport observing the movement of people and whatever else that was unfolding at the arrival area I caught sight of PNG’s hero and world champion martial artist Stanley Nandex. He was accompanied by a friend and they were sitting on a platforming and talking.
When I went near them I realised that Stanley had his ears plugged with his mobile phone earpieces. I stood pausing for a few seconds and then I approached his friend who was sitting a metre away from him and asked if he could get me to talk to Stanley.
I felt uneasy and scared that Stanley would become angry and scold me for being a nuisance in front of everyone else at the busy terminal.
But that wasn’t so as the world champion cooperated quite well. As he turned to me, he must have realised that I was not attired as a professional journalist or reporter but before he could voice his misgivings, I told him that I was only a freelance writer interested in writing about him for the Weekender.
After a chat with Stanley I got his number and promised to call him the following day using Digicel unlimited free calls.
He then invited me to meet him in his home at Erima. During our meeting at his house the next day, the retired world champion in kick boxing said he was not encouraged by anyone into taking up martial arts but it was through his own desire and interest when he was still a primary school student back in his village in Southern Highlands.
Stanley said Bruce Lee was his role model as the famous martial artist fascinated him so much and that led him to taking up the sport.
“No one had inspired me into this sport but is was a Bruce Lee film that led me into developing a strong passion and desire for it.
“Apart from the Bruce Lee film, Sange Sonolo and the late James Mako, two pioneer martial artists in Tae Kwondo from my family were also confidence boosters for me when I was in community school,” Stanley said.
From his village he moved to Mt Hagen in 1997 where he took up proper training in martial arts. From there, as they say, the rest is history. But he does not want to make a show of his fortune and success stories as this, he said, would be boastful.
He stressed some factors that were healthy habits or guidelines that he had observed that have eventually led him to becoming a world champion in kick boxing, winning seven world title fights on different occasions.
“I became a world champion because I observed rituals, moral teachings, advice and wise sayings of forefathers, mentors or teachers. But that is not all as there was more expected of me such as training, mental and physical preparation including other things of vital importance.
“I fully committed myself into my desired sport to become a world champion.
“To become a world champion, you have to stay focused and mean business; it is not about showing off in taking photographs when travelling abroad for a sports mission, or being excited to travel on a plane or enjoy a good meal or the comfort of an expensive hotel.
“It is of course funny to see our country’s sportsmen and women having this sort of mentality which is a wrong and will not get them anywhere.
“When I travelled overseas for a fight, my mind focused on how I would be going to fight, how I would defend and asking myself what I was there for and what my trainer and other people who had spent resources, time and effort on me would feel if I under-performed or lost.
“I wasn’t going there to play up and bring duty free alcohol back for wantoks as most do in showing off their overseas trips. However, I go there with a focused mind and in meaning business for my country,” Stanley said.
“My focused mentality and 100 per cent commitment towards my sport made me a world champion.”
After his retirement from martial arts, over the years he has mentored and coached young PNG talents through the sports development and talent identification programmes. This has seen a number of PNG martial artists making a name for themselves.
Some of his fighters now in the limelight are Henry Garap, Jonathan Tuhu, Jeffrey Daka, Rickson Yamo, Lorry Laurie Halku, Gabi Yura and Katu Arang. Amongst the established and emerging fighters, Jonathan Tuhu is now based in Thailand while Alfred Samuel and Mark Sulu are in North Queensland, Australia.
The above named fighters are fruits of a true PNG sports icon that has brought the tiny Pacific Island nation to the world stage during his reign in the ring.
One final thing which Nandex said we all must bear in if we are to achieve our dreams is: “When you want to study, run a business, make a garden or play sports and if a good friend or a beautiful woman approaches you for an outing, say no and tell him or her that you need to stay focused on the dream or ambition.”
Paul Minga is a freelance writer.