Conversation With a Champion, Hassan Mwakinyo.

Attitude is a decision, and it is also a learned behaviour, requiring discipline and energy to sustain — Jim Afremow, The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive.

I don’t know Hassan Mwakinyo, and I won’t pretend I do, but the few hours we had together in Montpellier were priceless. Champions and successful business people have a lot in common. It all starts with the “mindset”. So many people have talked a lot about the importance of “ mindset”. It is not my intention to dwell into that discussion. When I met Hassan, the only thing that was moving in my mind was how a kid from Tanga, a secondary city of Tanzania, is on a journey to become a world boxing champion? How is he doing it? What is the secret? Can I learn a thing or two from his way of life?

Me and Hassan Mwakinyo

Knocked Down

The ability to get up and continue fighting separates mediocre fighters from world champions distinguishes “wannabe” entrepreneurs and successful business people. It is the fine line between failure and success. Mwakinyo talked about them so many times he was knocked down by life, and he had to get back up; the loss of his father, disappointments with family members, betrayals and trickery from promoters and sponsors. All that didn’t prevent him from getting back up and continuing the fight. These are the same scenarios as entrepreneurs we face every day. We got knocked down, and we got back up more robust than ever before. Sometimes you get battered, and you think is it worth getting back up, but you do it again, and again, and again. In one fight, he fell three times; the fourth time, his opponent fell. Will you get back up if you lose three times?

The Montpellier Gang.

Seize The Moment

Every time I stand in front of people to give a speech or do a presentation, I ask myself, “how did I get here?”. I remember my childhood friends at West Gerezani, Kariakoo and the opportunities they missed. The ones who turn out well and those we lost along the way to drugs and prostitution, and those who are still struggling to find the Tanzanian Dream. That fear of disappointing them pushes me to seize the moment and make the most of it. I wasn’t surprised to hear Mwakinyo have the same feeling and the same fear, fear of disappointing the hood. When you reach a particular stage is not about you, it is about those who look after you, he commented. Those kids who are fighting in the muds at the local gym without professional fight kits. Those who are doing it because Mwakinyo made it possible. Lose yourself. The moment you own it, you better never let it go. You have got one chance to show, and opportunities only come once in your lifetime — Eminem. Are you seizing the opportunity? Or you kept on disappointing and let them pass.

Pain is Necessary

He commented that I had to train for weeks with severe ankle pain to make it in time for my next fight. After all that pain, the promoter just decided to cancel the fight without even consulting him. Sometimes you don’t control the outcome of your hard work, but you can always choose how much effort to put in to get what you want. You need to find a way to convert your pain into the energy you need to succeed. The pain from working out, disappointments, generational poverty in your family, broken relationships, and everything that pulls you back needs to be converted into massive energy that gives you the superpower to continue fighting when your opponent is about to quit. To win, you have to understand the cost of losing. The cost of failing to a kid struggling to put a roof on his parent’s house is not the same as someone doing it for fame and titles. To Champions, we don’t win one fight. We win hundreds of battles in one row. Are you embracing pain and turning it into something meaningful? Do you know the cost of losing your next battle?

Extra Push-Ups

I don’t know if you have been to Magoroto Forest, before my fights, every day before 5:00 am I climb up and down the mountain, the darkness and coldness is part of my life, he commented. He kept going, pushing himself to the limits. Sometimes his mother would ask, why are you doing this? Is it not enough to train in the local gyms? He understood champions have to put that extra push up that everybody else ignores because it’s extra painful,l and you always feel you can do it the next day. Procrastination is for losers. Your mind is a powerful tool. If you train it to believe you can, it will defy the laws of nature and turn you into a superhuman and everyone will wonder how you do it. The keywords are discipline and consistency. Are you doing your extra push-ups?

It’s Bigger Than You

I am still training at my local gym; I live in Tanga; I love the peace, the people and the impact on my community, he commented. He is proud to see more kids are getting into boxing and calling themselves Mwakinyo. He has improved his local gym and supplies nearby gyms with gears and kits. Champions create bridges, don’t burn them. They create opportunities for others. They understand the success of others doesn’t reduce anything from their status. They want to make more people like them instead of being the only ones. Being the first one in anything comes with a price to pay and responsibilities to fulfil. Are you fulfilling yours?

It was a short but very insightful conversation. I could relate a lot to what he was saying. He agrees he is far away from the pinnacle of his success but celebrates and appreciates what he has achieved. One thing is for sure, we have come so far just to reach this far. We continue fighting; we continue pushing. We continue to grow and to love. That is what Champions do.

Cheers to more Mwakinyos!!!

Entrepreneur, TZ Patriot, Loves Tech, Founder saharaventures.com, Project Management Consulting firm, Co-Founded saharasparks.com and Sahara Accelerator.