Youth Development Lays the Seeds of Possibility

05 July 2022:

Some two decades ago a youth development programme took place leaving a lasting legacy. On the 9th December 1998, the West Coast was home to a youth development programme aimed at almost 100 children from impoverished backgrounds. The South African Navy base, SAS SALDANHA hosted the programme which was initiated by then Sub Lieutenant Claudio Chiste of the Military Academy.

Amongst these children was a young 12-year-old, Jemaff Samuels.

Years later the significance would slowly reveal itself.

Jemaff now a 35-year old family man recalls how he was positively impacted, “At the time I did not think it changed my life. However, as I think about it, it did inspire me to want to live a healthy life. A life of discipline. To be more physically active. I realized that I had developed in interest to join the military or Navy”.


LINED UP AND READY: Youth participants being drilled in the basics in boxing.
The focus was primarily on discipline and resilience. These transferrable skills are relatable to real-life challenges.

Using Youth Development for Social Upliftment

From a social development perspective, Jemaff feels that impoverished communities such as the one where these children come from could benefit from more of these programmes. Poverty is rife with gangsterism ever present.

Jim Rohn famously stated, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.

Whether you agree that this number is statistically correct, the reality is that we are influenced by our surroundings. According to research by social psychologist, Dr David McClelland of Harvard University, the people who you habitually associate with determine up to 95% of your success or failure. We have the ability to actively construct our environment, rather than rely on chance. Mindset plays a key role. Developing a mindset of resilience and growth is the differentiator.

Although Jemaff did not end up joining the Navy, his learnt self-discipline enabled him to step up when he needed.

Everyday Challenges: Bullying, Gangsterism, Drugs & Murder by decapitation

For many the everyday brutality and challenges resemble a Quentin Tarantino movie. Bullying was a major issue whilst he was growing up, with Jemaff finding himself on the receiving end. However, one day he decided that was enough. He followed a discipline lifestyle of hard training, involving push up and sit ups, increasing his size and strength. He soon became a force to be reckoned with. The bullying stopped.

A second example is illustrated by his actions after he saw many fall prey to the evils of drugs. He wanted more out of life. After perseverance, he successfully completed his studies in IT and Marketing and currently works for Mweb in Cape Town where he resides with his wife and three children.

Jemaff recalls the tough sparring encounter he had on the development programme, which thankfully was an even match. Jemaff adds that his sparring partner for the day, Sakkie ‘Afrika’ Bies suffered a gruesome murder being decapitated by gangsters. The case of Sakkie is sadly not unique. Our environment and what we are exposed to influences us. This leads him to conclude that the community had benefitted greatly from this initiative, emphasising his point for the need to have more such programmes. Another inspirational story is that of Jemaff’s cousin, Warren Raadloff, who also attended the outreach programme. He is currently completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering.


SQUARING OFF: Claudio Chiste and Jemaff Samuels meet up for the first time 24 years after the youth development programme.

Boxing 400x200

Champion in the Making: Meet the Lion King

Meet an African Champ: Introducing The Lion King

The unbeaten prospect who aims to set the ring alight…

WTC: Who are the important people in your life?
My family (father, mother, brothers and sisters) and all my friends. I give a lot of importance to my friends because I regard them as my second family.

WTC: Who inspired you to get into boxing?
The first person who inspired me to get into boxing is my father, George Yav. Then there is also people like Clairere Masinga, my master coach Mbo,  Mpya Mogard and Mbala Sibor…

WTC: Who is your favourite boxer?
My all-time favorite boxers are Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali. My current favourites are Floyd Mayweather, Canelo Ilunga Makabu Lumpungu Élie and Alex Kabange.

WTC: What have been your highs and lows in life?
My low is that I’m looking stability in my career as I really want to go far in boxing.
My high in South Africa I would say are my 4 fights, 4 victories (all knockouts except one). To talk is easy, the real performance is by doing.

WTC: One of the benefits from partnering with Joe Esau, Claudio Chiste & John Jantjies, is that Joe is well embedded within Cape Town, John a highly accomplished trainer and Claudio a Mental Toughness coach, with both John and Claudio former boxing champions. Prior to this partnership, did you have a mental training regime to get your mind ready for a fight?
Just by being with them I am able to learn, continuing to add to my knowledge. We are still in the beginning of our relationship, in time, you will see for yourself. I consider myself fortunate to have met them, I generally don’t talk a lot about them… I rather let my actions speak. In terms of being ready for a fight?
Well… I am always ready to fight anyone.

Claudio Chiste Boxing TrainingMain photo: Lion King and Claudio Chiste

WTC: How do you separate family and sports?
The family for me is very sacred and boxing is a passion for me!
They are both important to me and I regard them as complementing each other, rather than competing with each other.

WTC: What are your views on determination?
I am determined to be a champion one day. Watch this space.

WTC: Can you share how you focus in preparation for your fights?
In preparation for my fights, I have 100% focus on my fight, at times even forgetting myself because I give all I can to get what I want.

WTC: In preparing for a fight how do you separate between family and sports? is it difficult?
It is not easy. However, once I decide I really want something I am able to take on what may seem impossible for many. This may be difficult at times, but throughout the journey I keep thinking about my desired result.

WTC: What is your favourite food?
My favorite food is Congolese food specially pap fish and pondu (le failles de manio)

WTC: Who is your favourite actor?
My favorite actor is the Congolese comedian Lady Esobe and Jean-Claude van Damme