Bachelor of Commerce Law summa cum laude graduate, Mr Hemal Heeralal, is excelling in karate and academics.
‘I made it through to the quarter-finals, ranking UKZN amongst the best sporting universities in the world. While studying, I also had the privilege of being a member of the Golden Key Society and receiving many scholarships from the University for all my efforts which kept me motivated to give my best for my degree,’ said Heeralal.
The top achiever is a Protea decorated athlete in the art of karate as well as multiple National Protea, sub-Saharan and Shotokan World Champion. His many sporting achievements include representing South Africa in countries such as Italy, Poland, India, Croatia, Rwanda and many more countries for global events such as the Commonwealth Championships, Youth Cups, and various world championships.
Balancing his sporting ambitions with the demands of his studies was no easy feat for Heeralal, hence, graduating at the top of his class is a great achievement.
‘The journey to completing my degree was not an easy one, but I gained a completely new perspective on life and the real world. I also had the privilege of setting up for events on campus, such as World Environment Day and founding the UKZN PMB Hindu Students Association. Although my life can be busy, I find beauty and joy in waking up every day to do something amazing. Outside of my karate and academic life, I also enjoy playing golf and travelling the world,’ said Heeralal.
Personally, Heeralal loves making a positive difference within the Pietermaritzburg community, hence founding the Wild Tigers Karate Dojo at the age of 13.
‘I am the Dojo Head and Instructor. Our vision is to guide our future leaders of tomorrow onto the right path, promoting the karate-do values of character, sincerity, effort, etiquette and self-control. COVID-19 had an extremely negative impact on many families within my dojo, hence my team and I run hamper drives and feeding schemes to assist the families hard hit by the consequences of the pandemic. I also assist with free self-defence workshops in my local community initiatives.’
Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan