Why do people blame the system when people are the architects of the system…we live in a world full of hypocrisy.Felix Ntumazah
A six-time European Kyokushin champion, Felix Ntumazah’s early life reads like a thriller novel. There were assassination attempts against his father and he and his family had to flee various countries to avoid imprisonment. However, it was through Karate training that he found stability and what he was meant to do in life.
Felix Fru Moumie Ntumazah was born on 29 August 1962 in Accra, Ghana. His parents were academics and politicians who were in exile from Cameroon. His father Ndeh was a leader of the pro-independence movement in Cameroon. His mother was also a politician. He also had two sisters, Marie and Irene.
Ndeh Ntumazah had been forced into exile for political reasons. He and his family moved to Accra, Ghana, where he became an adviser to Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana.
On 6 September 1962, an assassination attempt was made on the life of Ndeh Ntumazah and his colleagues. A bomb had exploded close to a location where they were meeting. Luckily, no one died.
Following the assassination attempt, the Ntumazah family left Ghana, ending up in Albania, again for political reasons. They were one of the very few black families in the country. They stayed in Albania for five years. Albanian was one of the first languages Felix spoke, until the age of five and a half.
Around 1967 the Ntumazah family had to move again. This time they relocated to Brazzaville, The Congo. The Ntumazah children attended school in Brazzaville. Felix recalled feeling like an outcast, especially as he and his sisters only spoke Albanian and French.
During their time in The Congo, Felix Ntumaza, his mother and his sisters were imprisoned for around three years. The Cameroonian government were seeking to extradite his father to face trial in Cameroon. They had put political pressure on The Congo to extradite the family.
To protect his family, Ndeh Ntumazah lived away from them, often in other countries. He had survived a further assassination attempt.
While in The Congo, Felix Ntumazah had his first exposure to Karate. He had tried a little Shotokan from some friends but found the style too rigid for his liking.
By 1972 Felix Ntumazah and his family had relocated to Algeria. He spent a number of years in the country and learnt to speak Arabic. In 1975 he started attending CEM Emir Abdul Kader High School.
In 1978 Felix Ntumazah graduated from high school and moved to South London where his father was now living. He was 16 years old. As a teenager, he was interested in football and boxing, mainly because of Pele and Muhammad Ali.
A friend encouraged Ntumazah to join a local Karate club in 1979. However, remembering his experience with Shotokan, he wasn’t sure. However, he visited the Kyokushin club located in Crystal Palace. The club was run by Steve Arneil, assisted by Jeff Whybrow and Joe Ball.
Arneil’s Crystal Palace club was very popular. 200 people regularly trained at the club and there was a waiting list to join. Ntumazah was not allowed to join the club immediately. He had to fill out an application form and was placed on the waiting list.
Ntumazah eventually received notification that he could train at the Crystal Palace club. He decided to give the training a go. For the first month of his training, he wasn’t sure if Kyokushin was for him. As a beginner, he was right at the back of the class and had difficulty seeing the instructors. He would have to copy the students immediately in front of him. However, he soon fell in love with the style after a sparring session.
Ntumazah was soon training at any Kyokushin club he could find in South London. Apart from Crystal Palace, he also trained at the Elephant & Castle, and Peckham clubs. He was soon receiving positive encouragement from his instructors.
Ndeh Ntumazah, being an academic, was against his son doing any form of martial arts. He wanted him to concentrate on his studies. By this time Felix was studying Estate Management at South Bank University.
By 1982 Felix Ntumazah had achieved the rank of green belt. As a green belt, he competed at the British Open, his first major tournament. His first bout was refereed by Brian Fitkin. He found the fight tough. He was kicked in the head numerous times, and could only eat soup for a month.
Through the mid-to-late 1980s, Ntumazah regularly competed in the heavyweight division. He was soon finding success in the tournaments he entered. In 1984, at the Welsh Open Championships, he finished in third place. Two years later he placed third place again. In 1988 he won the title.
Through the 1990s and 2000s, Ntumazah established himself as a top competitor. His major tournament successes include:
- Welsh Open Championships – 3rd place (1984, 1986)
- Welsh Open Championships – 1st place(1988)
- British Open Championships – 3rd place (1992, 2001,)
- British Open Championships – 1st place (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998)
- IFK European Championships – 1st place (1995)
- IFK Spanish Open – 1st place (1996)
- IFK World Championships – 4th place (1997)
- French Open – 1st place (2005)
In 1991 following the reintroduction of multi-party democracy in Cameroon, Ndeh Ntumazah was able to return to the country. He was able to help with the rebuilding of the country.
On 21 January 2010 Ndeh Ntumazah died in St Thomas’s Hospital in London, aged 83. His body was taken back to Cameron by his son Felix. The Cameroonian president, Paul Biya decreed that Ndeh Ntumazah be given an official burial.
Felix Ntumazah eventually became an assistant instructor at the Crystal Palace club, under Steve Arniel. He still teaches at the club. He is also the Chairman of the British Karate Kyokushin (BKK). With a wealth of knowledge, he frequently teaches courses and seminars. He has taught many courses in the Middle East. He has become a successful coach, with many of his students finding success.
Away from Karate, Felix Ntumazah has run a security company for several years. He has met the likes of Eminem, Destiny’s Child, Justin Bieber, Wesley Snipes, Mike Tyson, and Frank Bruno.