Shihan Mohan Heera
Mohan Hira started training in martial arts in 1956 with his friend Peter Motsilele. They joined Prof Stan Hogen at Bantu Mens Social Centre, where non whites were allowed to use the sporting facility.
After training some months Hira joined Yusuf ‘Joe’ Nazeer in Fordsburg dojo, where they trained for two years where Shihan Joe had closed his Dojo. In 1958 Hira befriended Douggie Bagotte then Mr South Africa, the brother-in-law of Norman Robinson. Because Non Whites were not allowed to train together Shihan Douggie helped Hira and graded him to first dan in Judo.
While training Judo, he was introduced to Karate by Shihan Norman Robinson. These lessons were done in private after his normal classes were finished. This led to Hira’s friends wanting to learn karate from him, while he was learning from Shihan Norman. Hira then opened his first Dojo with the blessing of Shihan Norman who encouraged him.
With the help of Shihan Norman, a fully fledged gym was opened in Commissioner House on Commissioner Street. With the help of Mr Harilal Makkan (Harry), body building, karate-kas and judo-kas trained daily. Soon the Club had to move to Fordsburg, in Avenue Rd. (The Plaza is now located there).
In 1968, Sipo Mashinini, a top body-builder represented South Africa in the Mr Universe Competition held in London. He was the first Non White to travel to London and was awarded the then Springbok colours. He was placed No. 6 in the Mr Universe contest. He was sponsored by Shihan Mohan Hira.
Shihan Mohan Hira then started a Karate Development Programme. He trained karate-kas in Soweto; some of them still practice today and are running successful dojo’s of their own. In 1970, Hira had to move to Lenasia where he started classes and he continued to have classes in Johannesburg Gandhi Hall. In Lenasia, Hira joined the Community Organisation, interested in their upliftment of the Community. In 1986, Hira and Chagan Chiba introduced the first Ghandi Walk.
In 1988, Hira walked 720 km (from Johannesburg to Durban) to raise funds for charities. A team of four members from the community joined him. This was a successful event. In 1991 (after South Africa could participate in international sports) the first team left for Turkey and Greece. Later teams of Karate-kas also visited the Middle East, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, America, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, UK, France Germany, Italy and most of Europe with style head (WSKF) Shihan Nigel Jackson and Shihan Hitoshi Kasuya.
He also represented South Africa at the SKI World Championships in Durban in 2003 where he achieved third position. Shihan Hira is also named in the Hall of Fame in South Africa as a pioneer of Martial Arts. He won the Lenasia Human Rights Award, and also ‘People Those Who Care’ an award for his care and contribution to the community.
In 2004, he affiliated to Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association – the home we would treasure and keep our members. Shihan Hira has trained under numerous Japanese Karate masters – to name a few : Master Nakayama, Master Kanazawa, Master Enoeda, Master Kaze, Master Kasuya, Masters - Yahara, Tomita, Shirai, Abe, and a host of others.
In South Africa Shihan Norman Robinson, Shihan Stan Schmidt, Shihan Nigel Jackson, Shihan Malcolm Dorfman and a host of others. Shihan Hira also participated in various films (8 different movies), he also did long distance walking from Johannesburg to Durban four times raising funds for charities. In India, Hira also walked the Salt Satyagrah (Salt Walk), which was 420km.