I spent my formative years in South Africa. Easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world but riddled with poverty, racism and disease.
My friends and I used to frequent the beach and befriended some of the kids down at the skate park. Drawn in by his charisma and charm we met Thalente.
Aptly named Thalente( Meaning Talent in Zulu) Biyela is a 17 year old charismatic street kid who roams around Durban’s beach front where he fled to escape the abusive hand of his step father. All his energy from then on has been directed away from the streets and towards skateboarding. He was given his first skateboard in 2002 and now aspires of one day becoming pro.
Thalente has been on and off the streets since the tender age of 8 years old. He has spent the last few years full-time hussling his way around the South African skate scene while trying to make a name for himself. His enthusiasm has paid off and he has become one of South Africa’s most promising young skaters.
Skating is his life and he puts his heart and soul into it. Becoming one of the first kids from South Africa to escape the streets and go on to earn a living from skating is no small undertaking and the future challenges on and off of his board are huge. No doubt that the tenacity and drive he needed to survive on the streets will see him well equipped to make a big statement in the future.
For the last few years a team of amazing people have been trying to figure out how to help him pursue his dream of going pro. After attracting international press, a sponsorship from LRG and a US P1 athelete visa, Thalent will be mentored by pro skateboarder Kenny Anderson. Kenny will be exposing him to the world and helping him get educated so at the very least he can get a job while pursuing his dream. They’re not the only ones doing the work, in the last year Thalente has kicked a serious drug habit, got healthy, strong and hit the South African skating scene with a vengence.
The icing on the cake – Thalente was just invited to compete at the Tampa Am in Florida, USA.
He is currently in New York and has promised to keep me updated on his adventures.
Please visit iamthalente.com read his story and see what you can do to help.
The future challenges facing Thalent are huge…
But with a good support network and talent to spare, his dream of becoming one of the first black kids from South Africa to earn a living from skating may just come true.