South American karate star Antonio Diaz is in line to make a special appearance at the Gabs Open Karate Championship at Al Nur Hall this Saturday. The Hayashi-Ha style, an affiliate to the country’s karate governing body Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) will stage the seventh edition of the tournament, which is expected to pit the best karatekas across the country.
The 30 year old Diaz is a decorated karateka who has dominated international competitions down the years. Some of his accolades include are 11 times National Champion, 4 Paris Open Championships and US Open Championships, 2 Italian Open Championships and the 2 Australian Championships.
The Venezuelan karate icon specializes in the Shito Ryu, Shotokan and Shito kai karate techniques. The tournament will be used as preparations for the upcoming Africa Senior Championships billed for Cameroon next month. Neighboring countries South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia have so far confirmed their participation.
Some of the local lads who are expected to shine at the event include amongst others the incumbent senior men kata champion Ofentse Bakwadi, Thabang Setshego, Oratile Caiphus, Tsholofelo Maduma and Merillyn Manthe. Categories range from individual Kata and individual Kumite, for ages 5 to 35, providing a rare opportunity for athletes of all ages and technique level to come and test their skills while also gaining priceless exposure.
“The tournament will aid as preparation for those who made the cut from the recent National team selections but as Hayashi-Ha we will use it to spot talent across all regions from the country. The Gabs open is the tournament which raised talented karatekas such as Thabang Setshego so it is special tournament”,Hayashi-Ha chief instructor Mpho Bakwadi told Gazette Sport.
The former BOKA Vice President (technical)’s involvement in karate still lingers on despite his recent setback after losing to Tshepo Bathai for the Presidential seat.
“I am still very much part of BOKA though my affiliation with Hayashi-Ha and my qualification of World Kata Judge A puts me in a position to represent the association in regional and international tournaments,” he concluded.