Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) and the Botswana Kofukan Federation are mourning the loss of one of its own, Sensei Jonathan Phiri.
According to BKF, Sensei Phiri passed on this past weekend after a long illness. News of Sensei Phiri’s passing has come as a shock to the BKF and the whole karate fraternity.
“He had been sick for a while but his passing was unexpected. When we met recently, he seemed to be recuperating and he even remarked that he would like to resume training very soon,” BKF Public Relations Officer (PRO) George Tshikare said. Speaking in an interview, the BKF PRO said Phiri’s death was a huge loss to both the BKF and Karate as a whole. As one of the founders of the Special Support Group (SSG) Karate Club, Phiri was instrumental in developing some of the country’s finest karatekas. According to the BKF PRO, while Phiri did not go on to coach at the national team levels, his work in unearthing champion karatekas speaks volumes about him. Among his products are Karate national team jewels in the likes of Thato Malunga, Tsholofelo Maduma and Mbise Takobana, just to mention a few.
“While coaching at SSG, he unearthed a lot of karatekas, some of whom are still making the country proud at international level. He did not just produce ordinary karatekas, he trained very good ones,” Tshikare explained.
Aside from being an accredited instructor, the BKF PRO said Phiri was a pioneering karate referee and judge. Along with Sensei Union Kgafela, Phiri was among the first Batswana Karate judges to be accredited by the World Karate Federation (WKF). Phiri was accredited as both the Kata and Kumite judge.
“At the time when they made it as WKF accredited officials, Botswana had tried many times to get world level accredited officials and had time and again failed. Their achievement was a turning moment in Botswana karate,” Tshikare explained. “He was also a world level referee. He was a referee at continental tournaments while also being a referees’ instructor in the region. The fact that he moved from being a regional referee to a world level referee shows his commitment and passion for the sport,” said the BKF Spokesperson. Among the world events he officiated in were the Junior World Championships which were held at Spain in 2013, a year in which he became an accredited official. Meanwhile, the BKF said they intend to do all they can to ensure the departed sensei gets all the respect and farewell he deserves.