From ex-bodybuilding champ to supervisor
Sport – General | 2021-08-09
by Conrad Angula
FORMER champion bodybuilder Sylvanus Niigambo is usually a man of few words, but when it comes to his accolades for Namibian bodybuilding, the well-decorated sportsman from Walvis Bay can hardly contain his excitement.
Niigambo enjoyed a prestigious career spanning over a decade.
An overwhelming figure in the lightweight and middleweight divisions, Niigambo is a five-time Mr Namibia title winner.
“I was not an easy person to compete against. I followed my two lightweight titles with three consecutive middleweight titles, a record which is unlikely to be broken. I topped up my five national titles with two All Africa Games titles,” he says.
The first continental win came in the lightweight division in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1995 while the second, which saw him being subjected to three steroid and drug tests, was won in Durban, South Africa, in 1996 in the middleweight category.
Born and bred at Walvis Bay, the champion bodybuilder came a long way since he was burning up the athletics track at Kuisebmond Primary School and Tamariskia Secondary School, where he was the to-beat 100 m and 200 m sprinter.
His preferred sport was karate though, where he was busy carving himself an exciting career before his ambitions ended prematurely due to the departure of his instructor.
“I first started doing karate in 1988 and I was doing pretty well and looking forward to being an exceptional karateka when my instructor at the time moved back to South Africa. I was a very ambitious brown belt second dan at the time.
“It was not by coincidence that I joined the Kuisebmund Gymnasium Club straight away, because I was intrigued by both karate and bodybuilding at the time,” he says.
He says bodybuilding helped shape him into the self-disciplined and healthy person he is.
Niigambo says bodybuilding is an expensive sport and one must have deep pockets to compete at the highest level.
“Bodybuilding is no child’s play,” he says.
“That is the one sport that literally drains you financially. The food you must eat is very expensive.
“The best way to go about it is to have a sponsor,” he says.
Niigambo says he wants people to remember him as a fierce competitor who strived to live a healthy lifestyle.
He says he still trains regularly and as a result doesn’t age very fast.
Niigambo has been employed as a section head at a plant at Embwinda Fishing Company for the past 25 years.
“I am supervising a shift of people and the requirement is that they have to go through me to the company . . . I am working with a dynamic group of people who have bought into the vision of the company,” he says.
Niigambo says he is pleased with the way the Covid-19 pandemic is handled at his company.
“I say a very big thank you to my employers at Embwinda for the positive and drastic changes they have made towards the safety of the employees. They have really shown during this dreadful period of the coronavirus that the lives of their workers are important.
He says he has had to live with the stigma that bodybuilders are using banned substances to build their bodies.
“Drugs and other substances aren’t allowed in our sport. The motto of the association is to rather feed your body with the correct lifestyle and exercises to build your muscles naturally.
He says what really grew his passion for the sport is the reward of health that comes with it.
“You go for medical checks after every three months. They check your blood pressure and your sugar levels. Some gyms even have equipment to check your fat percentage.
Niigambo is still a member of the Kuisebmond Gymnasium Club, where he advises young instructors on how to conduct their business in order to dispatch the experience he has gained throughout the years.
He says he doesn’t like alcohol and nicotine because those substances break down your body.
He says what you eat today is how you live tomorrow.
Niigambo advises junior bodybuilders to totally abstain from alcohol and drug abuse.
“Life in general is very different today. If you use those substances, just remember that you allow the devil inside your body. Make the gym your second home in order to refrain from doing the wrong stuff.
“Any banned substance you consume could be detrimental for your health. Just know alcohol is not only bad for bodybuilding, but for footballers, tennis players, rugby players and athletes as well. Remember, the gym is the heartbeat of any sportsperson,” he says.
Niigambo is single, and has two sons.