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This article was published 8/8/2018 (655 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Rahim Mirza isn’t the first Manitoba athlete to represent Canada at an international competition, but he might be one of the first to do so alongside his mother.
Rahim, 20, and his mother Sofia Mirza, 47, are heading to Panama City next week for the 13th International Shotokan Karate Federation Pan-American Championships. It’s the first time the International Shotokan Karate Federation of Canada has selected Manitobans to be on the team in five years. Fellow Winnipegger Ryan Porath will be joining the mother-son duo for the competition, which runs Aug. 16-19.
Sofia, an immigration lawyer and partner with Fillmore Riley LLP, qualified for the roster by winning gold medals at the Canadian nationals the past three years. Rahim, a real estate agent with Royal LePage, won gold at the 2017 nationals and a bronze this year to crack the Canadian team.
"We’re pretty excited," Sofia said on representing Canada in an international karate competition with her son.
"It’s an exciting thing because we train together. It’s a huge bonding experience for me and my son. It’s something where when your kids get older, they do their own thing. Rahim is an extremely successful top producer at Royal LePage, so he is very busy and so am I. But it’s a huge honour to be able to do the things outside of work together. To be able to share that together is an incredible experience."
Sofia started training 25 years ago, but took an 11-year break when Rahim, her only child, was born. Rahim got into the karate game when he was eight and in the 12 years since then, they’ve been training full time outside of school and work.
Despite having demanding careers, they manage to train for several hours a day, six days a week, at numerous karate clubs throughout the city.
"For both of our careers, no two days are the exact same. I think the good thing about having karate and having a dedicated schedule where you have to go to the dojo at a certain time is that it’s a release in a way," Rahim said on finding a balance between work and karate.
"You can have a super stressful day and then you can go to the dojo and dedicate a couple hours to something where your phone’s away from you, your life’s away from you and you’re in a class and that’s what you’re focusing on. It’s a huge stress reliever."
Sofia, a fourth-degree black belt with three degrees from the University of Manitoba, lights up when you ask her about what karate has done for her relationship with Rahim.
"The extra time that we have, we spend it together. But it’s nice sharing those goals, coming back and talking about karate and what we learned, talking about different self-defence moves, training together — it’s time spent together. It creates a bond that’s unexplainable," said Sofia, formerly the president of the Manitoba Bar Association.
"I tell all my friends that have children to try to find something you guys have in common and try to do it together, because it will change and strengthen the relationship."
Rahim said most people are surprised to hear about the sport he shares with his mother, but at the same time, he can tell that some people might be a little envious, too.
"There’s a lot of similarities that we can relate to, and coming home from karate class we can talk about what we learned and what we’re looking forward to at the next class. A lot of my friends, you can tell they’re all super happy about it, but you can also tell in the back of their mind they’re like, ‘Damn, I wish I had that with my parent, too.’ So it’s kind of nice to be able to share this experience with my mom."
Sofia and Rahim — both Kelvin High School graduates — aren’t heading to Panama just to be a cute story about a mother and a son. They’re going with the intention of bringing home some medals.
There are no weight classes in karate, so Sofia and Rahim will be squaring off against competitors in their age groups at the same belt-colour rank.
"I’m going for the gold, no question about it," Sofia said. "Obviously it’s our first experience at an international competition and we want to make Canada proud, but we’re both shooting for the gold."
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @TaylorAllen31
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.