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Blackman power

TOP SPOT: Zuri, second from left on stage, celebrates after a great tournament; inset, in action

TEAM BLACKMAN continues to take the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by storm and having won a plethora of national and international medals, sisters Nia and Zuri have added the world title to their name following their victories in Abu Dhabi last month.

Proud mum Sherise Blackman told Life & Style it was a special moment to witness not one but two of her children stand with their hand held aloft in victory at the recent World Championships, where young daughter Zuri not only won a gold medal in her age and weight class, but also stepped up to fill the place of a 15-year-old who had withdrawn from the competition – and went on to win a silver medal, too.

PERSPECTIVE

To put things into perspective, Zuri is just 10 years of age.

But both young ladies have cleaned up since being intro- duced to the sport very early on in their lives.

They have heady ambitions to fulfil in a sport few parents are familiar with and ticking the box- es they did in winning gold last month, was just another notch towards their sporting utopias.

Talking about the Blackman family values that have seen the surname achieve global recog- nition as her children’s discipline and dedication to the sport reaps its rewards, Sherise said she would recommend the BJJ way of life to everyone.

She told L&S: “As soon as you start having children you worry about when they get to their teenage years – you start fretting once you get through the baby years. How do I keep my kids from experimenting or going off and hanging about with the wrong crowd?”

She added: “I know that I have a lot of running about to do – I have a lot of packed lunches to make, we have to do tournaments at weekends and most evenings are taken up with going back and forth to training.

“There is a sacrifice that me and my husband have to make, but for what we get back from it, it’s worth the sacrifice everyday of the week.

“I would rather have to rush back and forth taking them training knowing that they are doing something that is a life skill, as they are learning how to protect themselves and they are keeping themselves fit and healthy, and that they are learning discipline, focus and respect.

“We are getting so much more, our kids are developing so much and are achieving things. The trade off is not comparable for us.”

When Sherise talks about the trade off she is referencing a life without BJJ, such is the way in which her children have been enriched by the martial art.


IMPRESSIVE: Sisters Nia and Zuri have added the world title to their name following their victories in Abu Dhabi last month.

For parents reading this around the world, both Mr and Mrs Blackman do not play around when it comes schoolwork. In fact, Sherise says at no point has their children’s dedication to education been compromised as a result of their love for BJJ.

Talking about her recent achievement, Nia, whose win was even more spectacular given she had to lose just under two kilos the day before her competition in order to make weight, said losing in the final last year spurred her on to do better this year.

She said: “I got a silver medal at these championships last year, so I had to come back and go one better.

“I’d like to win the black belt world championships in the future. It takes place in Long Beach, California. It’ll probably be in a couple of years. Then I want to be the IBJJF number one ranked black belt.”

Having ambitions to become the youngest BJJ female black belt in the world (the record is currently held by Bianca Basilio, aged 20), Zuri said there was one more thing she would like to see change.

INVOLVED

She said: “I want to get a black belt by the time I am 18,” Zuri said.

She added: “I want to get more female people involved in the sport. A lot of girls say they don’t want to get into fighting because they want to do other stuff. But I want to get more girls to do sports and martial arts.”

For all of their success, Team Blackman still don’t have a major sponsor, which incredible when you consider they have titles and gold medals all over the world, leaving a trail of domination.

Sherise has come to the conclusion, however, that as disappointing as it may be, financial support may not be found on these shores.

“We’re still self-funding and have family members that are contributing, which is helping the kids. We have the kids’ international in Las Vegas in August, which we are saving to go to, and all three of my kids will be fighting there.

“To be honest with you, if sponsorship is going to come for these kids it’s going to come from our own community. I’ve seen people rally behind kids that are not the standard.

“I know it’s not going to happen over night and I think I am more than likely going to get more luck overseas in America, because the sport is bigger out there and now the kids are starting to make names for themselves out there. The next thing is competition entries, they can be expensive for all of them and then we’ll go from there.”

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