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WHEN a Pretoria plumber sought sponsorship to compete in Hungary at November’s world championship of the World Association of Kickboxing Organisations (WAKO), the Dormehl and Phalane Property Group was quick to lend a hand to help the 34-year-old get his, um, kicks.

The reason was twofold – one being that Quentin Steyn, a father of two boys, has great talent. He has chalked up 15 years of experience in kickboxing, a combat sport which, based on kicking and punching, first surfaced in 1960 in Japan and, in more recent years, has contributed to the emergence of mixed martial arts.

The first world championship was held in 1974, reports Wikipedia, and this year’s global event, which Steyn will be attending as one of a 32-member South African team, representing various divisions, will be held in Budapest from November 3 to 12.

Due to the withdrawal of Brazil, where Light, Low-kick and K1 disciplines would have been organised, Budapest has now had the opportunity to organise the joint WAKO Senior and Masters World Championships, including all seven disciplines.

Consequently, this year marks the first time that fighters and athletes of all disciplines will be competing at the same World Championships.

The trip to Hungary will mark the first international tournament for Quentin, whom the property group’s Owen Dormehl and Tau Phalane were doubly delighted to sponsor when they realised he and his team members are strong supporters of anti-bullying, something both Dormehl and Phalane strongly applaud.

“My wife, Lisa, and I are actively involved in youth upliftment and development. We love our country and strive to see others, especially young, people realise their purpose and help others achieve theirs,’ says Quentin.

Born in Volkrus, KwaZulu-Natal, Quentin competed in May in the South African Kickboxing Championships in Durban, where he won the gold medal in the Men’s Under-84kg Light Contact division, He also took the silver medal in the Men’s Under-84kg Semi Contact and Kick Light divisions.

“I am the current South African champion in the Under-84kg Light Contact division, and will be competing in the Semi and Light contact divisions during the World Champs,” he says.

What is he most looking forward to about the Budapest trip?

“Representing my country in a world championship has been a dream of mine, so that is what I am most looking forward to. The team is strong and ready, so I think our chances are good,” adds Quentin, who points out that he and his wife met through kickboxing.

“We met in 2006 and were married on a flower farm in Pretoria in 2008. We actually met at a kickboxing club we were then attending,”

The couple nave two sons – Callen, who is five, and Jesse, who turns one at the end of October.

Quentin nods and smiles when asked if his boys are likely to following his footsteps.

“Since Callen could walk he would put on my gloves and imitate me while training. Now that he is a bit older he has started training with me, so he might start competing in tournaments next year, if the interest persists.”

Has Quentin had any injuries or close shaves as a kickboxer over the years?

“I was knocked out once during a tournament about two years ago,” he recalls. “This caused a slight concussion, but it taught me to fight harder and keep my hands up.”

His sponsorship from Dormehl came about, he says, as his brother-in-law is an agent with the Dormehl and Phalane Poperty Group. The sponsorship, including accommodation, travel expenses and meals, amounted to R32 000.

“I sent my sponsorship letter on to Owen Dormehl. Seeing that he is an avid sports enthusiast, this piqued his interest. I am very grateful for the sponsorship and look forward to what we can achieve together in the sport of kickboxing, but also in our community.”

Quentin got interested in kickboxing when he was bullied at school and realised he needed to learn how to defend myself.

“This got me interested in martial arts, but kickboxing became my sport of choice,” he explains, adding that he went on to excel to the point that he has collected many titles and prizes over the years.

“In every level and division you compete for gold, silver or bronze medals. Let me just say that I need more than one wall to hang my medals.”

He says his involvement with anti-bullying and community upliftment is through the club. He is a student and a coach at Quest Kickboxing Academy.

“We work with young people from the community, teaching them the value of taking care of yourself and those around them. We would like, together with the Dormehl and Phalane Property Group, to become more involved with schools as well.

“I was bullied as a child because I was much smaller than my peers, so I started kickboxing. I teach my sons, as well as students, that violence is never the answer. Protect yourself and those around you. 
Always stop a fight if you can and never instigate one. Kickboxing teaches discipline, self-control and respect for one another.”

Bullying is a menace to society that needs to be highlighted and halted, and Durban clinical psychologist Isla Pauw is among those with praise for Quentin and Lisa’s ant-bullying efforts.

Accurate stats don’t exist about how big a problem bullying is in South Africa, as most instances of bullying go unreported, explains Pauw.

“One can assume that there has been a rise in bullying since the onset of social media. We don’t deal with traditional bullying on the playground anymore, but also bullying which now happens 24/7 via social media," adds Pauw.

She has been professionally dealing with bullying and bullies for 15 years. She has also conducted research on bullying as an online journalist for Health24.

What are some worst-case scenarios resulting from bullying?

“Adults who still suffer the negative impact of bullying many years later. Some were not the victims of bullying, but perpetrators who now struggle to live with remorse and guilt related to their actions as children,’ says Pauw.

“The media has reported several cases of suicide as a result of bullying. I have not dealt with suicide directly in my practise, but can understand that some children may be driven to drastic actions to end the pain related to bullying.”

Her advice for victims of bullying?

“I see both bullies and victims. The victims are usually adults who seek therapy to deal with guilt and remorse years later.

“Advice for victims: speak to an adult you can trust. This could be a family friend, parent or teacher. Be clear to the adult about how you would like them to respond. In some cases, well-meaning parents or teachers can make matters worse by over-reaction.”

Some schools have a post box where victims of bullying could post complaints anonymously. Make use of this if your school offers it, advises Pauw.

“Try to spend time with family members or friends out of school who know you well. Very often we take bullies’ opinions to heart. It helps to balance the bullies’ comments with the comments of people who really know you well.

“Find ways to keep you busy and distract yourself in a positive way. Take up a hobby, start exercising.

“Limit your time on social media and people’s access to you: for example, block whatsapps from bullies; change your privacy settings on Facebook. Most forms of social media have a ‘help’ function where you can report bullying/abuse. They are there to protect you from the bullies’ unacceptable behavious. Use them.”

Pauw points out that physical abuse by a bully is a serious matter and a criminal offence: Report it to the school, she advises victims: “You can also ask your parents to accompany you to the police station”.

She adds: “If you are a victim of verbal bullying, it may be best to ignore it and to walk away. No matter how much it hurts, try to show that it has no impact. Bullies always need a reaction – that is the fuel that keeps the bullying alive. If they don’t get attention, they walk away.”

Pauw says there are several other people, apart from the bully and victim, who are also affected. She refers to these people as the bystanders. Many pretend to go along with the bully because they are also scared. Most are also troubled by what they witness.

“If you are a bystander, stand up for the victim if you can, or show your support for the victim in another way. Always try to think independently and not to be carried away by the bully’s cruel intentions and remarks.”

Would Pauw recommend combat courses likes kickboxing or other self-defence courses for the bullied?

“Yes, such courses could certainly help as they build confidence and self-esteem and help you to stand firm in the world. Even if you don’t use them, you do feel stronger and more powerful when you are confronted by the bully.”

What advice from Pauw for the parent of a child being bullied?

“Seek support. It is very difficult for parents as well. Speak to a counsellor or a friend. You will need a soundboard so that you can react in the best possible way to the situation.

“Show your child that you love and accept him/her and try to encourage play dates with other children who have your child’s interests at heart. He/she needs to see that most children accept him/her.”

Pauw points out that teachers also need to be educated about bullying and build anti-bullying messages into their class work.

“These could be general examples about bullying, discrimination, intolerance and the importance of compassion and acceptance. One might not always be able to change the bully, but you can strengthen the role of the bystander who has the power to put an end to bullying,” she says.

Author: Billy Suter

Submitted 12 Oct 17 / Views 402