Monday, 21 November 2011

A lot of MMA fans in SA may not know who Dean Strydom was, and if they had to see his record may dismiss it and not think much of it. And honestly, there's nothing about it that really stands out. He was a really good fighter who beat some other good fighters of his era, and he put on some wonderful fights in that time. Even getting a win against one of South Africas top MMA fighters, Chris Bright, when they were both just starting out.

But there was so much more to Dean Strydom than that, and I'm afraid that's what history will miss.
I was working as a Personal Trainer at the old Westville Health and Racquet while completing my studies, 1995/1996, and my brother Ivan, Abdul Hassan and Chris Kistan used to get together and train in the aerobics hall by pushing aerobics mats together to grapple on. We had only just started out in BJJ and I think our enthusiasm for Jiu-jitsu was through the roof (as it still is - Abdul is still a threat on the MMA circuit in SA) and I met Dean who at the time was the Ops Manager for the gym.
He was already a provincial and national level competitor in boxing, karate and tennis. He had injured his knee in a motorcycle injury which had put an end to his tennis carreer and as a result had started weight training to rehab his knee.
In true Dean fashion the bug bit and he started bodybuilding and was soon a provincial and eventual National level bodybuilder.
He was a natural athlete and seemed to excell at anything he put his mind to.
He was still boxing a little and often used to watch with interest when we rolled or trained and was soon joining us on the mat.
His knee was still an issue and often gave him problems as it hadnt yet regained full stability, and I remember him quite badly spraining it one day grappling with my brother. Never one to let it get him down he was there on the mats when he could training around his knee, which was usually braced and still giving everyone a hard time and being an absoulute monster on the mat.
He was one of the strongest and fittest people (next to D. Moodley anyway) that Ive ever trained with and was always in shape.
Throughout his life Deano faced personal challenges - others called them his demons - but I hope he's remembered for all the good things and there were a lot...
All the peoples lives he touched and changed as a personal trainer, an incredible training partner-always available when I needed someone to train with no matter what his personal circumstances were, a loving and doting father, an absolute beast on the mat- I remember no one, NO ONE, black belts included passing his guard on one of our trips to Brasil while doing guard passing for over an hour, Dean losing a toe while training takedowns with Big Lenin at Game City Gym and us hustling him upstairs to the Doc's, he was back on the mat a few weeks later, post-surgery ready to give us a hard time, his infectious laughter, his incredible support and enthusiasm everytime I or someone on our team fought, his support of NOVAGEN after I moved to the UK, providing the guys with a place to train.
Dean needs to be remembered for all the good things he was and I hope he's found the peace he seemed to often struggle to find in life,
I look forward to sharing a joke and hearing his laugh again on the other side, but for now, we will miss you bro.


  1. Sorry for your loss bro. Life is too short.

  2. Dean and I used to roll a bit when we both found a free space. He loved jiu jitsu, and he had a great deal of respect for you Micah.

    Very often I would try and outsmart him by learning a new technique, like an X-Guard sweep, and time and time again he would nullify the technique. It was not because he studied the counters, but because he just had good fundamentals (strength, balance and compactness). He would think about the counter on the fly,adapt. He had a good 'feeling' for jiu jitsu. Of course he was ridiculously strong and very fit. To those people that say 'jiu jitsu is not about strength', I would say you haven't rolled with a Dean Strydom!
    He made our Derivco gym a fantastic place to train. He was really funny, and his laughter was infectious. He followed your blog - especially the philosophical quotes :)

    I think he was always trying to capture the glory of his early years, as he grew older. He was trying to go back to the time when life was exciting, fun and dangerous, and didn't seem comfortable with the stability and monotony of later life. Let’s hope that he finds the peace that he was looking for. We will certainly miss him a lot.

  3. Micah, thank you so much for writing this. It means so much to Charne knowing that her daddy was respected.

    Dean will never be forgotten. It is just so sad that Charne never will get to know him now. But having people like you brings her a little closer to her dad.

    Audrey x

  4. Take it easy bro till we meet again. Condolences to Sandy, Bronson, Charne and Audrey.
    Uncle Dave