Becoming somebody in life, drawing inspiration from an icon like Nelson Mandela, Rambo, and being mentored by Reg Park has made an Alexander Park local not only famous, but an inspiration in his local community.
That is not all, 35 year old Tumi Masite is living his dream…and keeps dreaming some more as he not only owns a gym, but does fine art and tattooing, in his backyard “Ikasi” gym.
Besides being a body builder, a trainer and a role model among other things, Masite is a talented artist who does fine art through painting on canvas, and on skin.
“I love painting because I produce beautiful art and most of my art is loved by international people.
Many South Africans are not art conscious, they are not easily drown by art as they still have to deal with other pressing needs. This makes it a challenge selling the work of art on the local markets.
“Art is in my blood and I love doing tattoos on people’s skin, the real canvas is the skin”
It is in the gym where Masite fulfils his dreams everyday by painting, tattooing, teaching and training his members.
“God blesses us all and gives us different talents and abilities. I fund-raise with my paintings although I don’t make a living out of my art.”
Tattooing brings him some cash to feed himself, his two kids and pay his son’s day care.
“It’s hard in the kasi (township) if you don’t have a plan. Others do crime, others work and others use their brains to earn money. You have others wash cars and others sell drugs, this is all to make a living as many young people are unemployed. It’s a painful sight when you take a walk in Alex and seeing many unemployed youths on the streets. This is what inspired me to do what I am doing as my contribution towards making a difference.”
Masite started a gym to make a difference in the township and help those who want to live a healthy lifestyle and rehabilitate people who need to improve and change their lives.
“I also help people to find confidence again, look good in their clothes and to become role models just with their bodies. I teach and encourage young people to invest in their bodies.”
According to Masite, he helps many lost souls and is not getting much money.
“It’s a small gym and if I made money I would build a bigger one. I help many to be away from crime, drugs, wrong things that lead them to sleeping around as I teach them mind changing activities and techniques, teaching them about their health”
He says people are also starting to develop their own gyms at their homes because they saw all the people he inspired.
He was trained by Reg Park the former trainer and mentor of Arnold Schwarzenegger who had visited the Mandela yard in Alexander Park and noticed Masite working out with friends.
“I was also trained by Bra Bonda who was a bodybuilder here in Alex.”
Ikasi Gym has rehabilitation facilities whereby they are helping more than 50 elderly people who have gone through strokes to regain their health and confidence.
“We also teach kids boxing and help get them books from affluent people who help us through donation”.
We also receive clothing from the donations for the kids although we would appreciate any help with donations and in funding the gym.”
The kids are being taught healthy eating and living as Masite is trying to “catch them young”
Currently Masite has 30 young boxers under his training, at no cost to them.
The gym currently has a membership of about 200 people and has 20 trainers, thanks to Reg Park who brought in the Virgin Active owner, Sir Richard Branson to sponsor Ikasi gym, hence becoming formally established in the township.
Masite was highly inspired by Nelson Mandela who used to do boxing, loved sports, to help people and looked forward to black people’s prosperity.
“Where I stay in Alex, it’s next to the famous Mandela house so our street has become popular, just like Vilakazi Street in Soweto, lots of tourists are coming over so we should definitely improve it. If I had the money, I would advocate for it to be renamed “Vilakazi,” says the gold medalist body builder.