Springboks captain Siya Kolisi details sobering stabbing incident from ‘violent’ teen years

South Africa’s incredible captain Siya Kolisi has delved into his rags to riches story, recalling how he overcame a violent childhood to become one of the best players in the world.

The 32-year-old has frequently talked about his challenging upbringing, and in an interview with former Wales fly-half Dan Biggar for the Daily Mail, he talked about a few more incidences.

South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in 2019 under Kolisi’s leadership, and in late October, they defeated New Zealand to take back the Webb Ellis Cup.

Tear gas and stabbings

That’s a far way from when the Racing 92 flanker was a teenager and frequently got into trouble.

When I was sixteen, I worked as an illegal bartender. He told the Mail, “There were occasions when people would hurl tear gas in, but I had to stand at the checkout and close my eyes, so I couldn’t get away.

“People were getting stabbed at the door, but they were still having fun.” Childhood was not kind to me. He stabbed me as I was leaving after we got into a disagreement, so I returned and we continued fighting.

The authority Kolisi brings to his role as Springboks skipper, as well as the presence he has when he speaks or even simply enters the room, has seen him tipped for a position in politics after he retires from playing.

But it is not something the 32-year-old is considering. The legendary Springbok is still seeking to assist those from underprivileged backgrounds, but outside of the political arena.

“What is politics? Nope. I’m not someone you want to see there. I’m going to give my foundation my whole attention. I raised some money for it last week when I was in New York,” he stated.

The world leader in gender-based violence is South Africa. The first victims of abuse I knew were my mother and aunt.

“In my community you see it so many times that it becomes normal. That’s not good, being immune to things like that. If a man and a woman argued then it would end up in a fight, because men don’t really speak.

“I learnt to speak by going through therapy. I had to go to marriage counselling because I couldn’t give everything to my wife, because my heart was so hard and I didn’t know how to speak.

“In my late 20s, I started talking to someone and the first time I went she said: ‘You are damaged in every level. The stuff that you saw is not normal’.

“It’s extreme, it’s bad. You have to speak about it, get through it. That’s why you grow up and your heart is so hard. Something happens in the community, you fight with someone, forgive them, and you move on. That’s normal in my neighbourhood.”

Historic achievement

Kolisi became the first black captain of the Springboks in 2018 and a year later led the team to their third World Cup title.

It was a significant moment, not just for sport in South Africa but the country as a whole. They then repeated that triumph in October, and the back-row revealed how this achievement arguably eclipsed that of four years ago.

“It’s been wild. The trophy parade in 2019 was big but this was 20 times bigger,” he said.

“A lot of people have been in a dark place but you could see their joy when we travelled around South Africa. It’s like they had been waiting for something to lift them.

“Some people couldn’t afford to watch us at home during the World Cup because you have to pay for the TV. People started opening up malls at 10pm to watch us play. Different backgrounds, different races, all sitting together.

“When we went home I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In Cape Town, the bus couldn’t move. You’d look up and you couldn’t see land, you just see people. Then you turn a corner and there are even more people. It was special.”

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