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Prominent taekwondo fighter, seasoned international referee, Moshoeshoe Molapo

Moshoeshoe Molapo refereeing at one of the international taekwondo tournaments

Feb. 20, 2021 6 min read

6 min read

NOT only is he a former daunting taekwondo star, but he is also a first class referee in the sport, one of the most decorated on the African continent.

Moshoeshoe Molapo, 47, is one of Lesotho’s few First Class International Referees and has in turn produced five other international referees from Lesotho including the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF)’s Sergeant Mojapela ’Mefane who is now a Second Class International Referee. The others are Kenang Letima, Lance Corporal Mokone Moahloli, retired Warrant Officer Likhama Leuta and retired Colonel Teboho Ramoepana.  

Sgt ’Mefane officiated at the 2019 Manchester, United Kingdom World Taekwondo Championships.

Molapo is the second Mosotho to officiate at the Olympics Games after LDF’s Brigadier Naha Kolisang who debuted at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in Australia. 

He has so far officiated two Olympic Games as an International Technical Official/International Taekwondo Referee at the 2012 London Olympic Games in the UK and the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

He is the only Mosotho International Referee in all sporting activities to win Best World Referee Awards.

He won the first at the 2012 WTF World Taekwondo Team Cup and the second one at the WTF World Para-Taekwondo Games in the Caribbean Island of Aruba the same year.

He also won another award at the 2016 1st African Para-Taekwondo Open in Agadir, Morocco and the African Junior Taekwondo Championship in Port Said, Egypt in the same year.

Owing to his extensive refereeing experience, Molapo serves as the National Referee’s Director of the Lesotho Taekwondo Association (LTA), whereat he grooms both local and regional referees.

He is a holder of a Diploma in Sport Administration and is a qualified National Course Director of Sport Administration under the International Olympic Committee (IOC), some of his roles in the committee include developing national sport administrators on sport administration and good governance.

As an athlete, he was the fourth ranked Lesotho taekwondo player in 1999 in his weight division and that booked him a spot in the team that represented the country at 5th All Africa Games in 1991 in Cairo, Egypt.

Team Lesotho that was led by Korean-born coach, Master Lee collected two bronze medals and a silver medal at the continental tournament.

He represented Lesotho at the 1999 World Military Games in Croatia where he fought against a formidable Korean opponent.

As part of his responsibilities, he provides club trainers with lessons on competition rules and interpretation, with the aim of instilling “game sense” in the athletes for the best performance in international competitions.

Following his great success in refereeing, he was appointed a member of the Commonwealth Taekwondo Referee’s Committee in 2016. He served as a member of the WTF International Referee’s Committee for the fiscal year 2014/2015.

He is the former President of the Lesotho Taekwondo Association, LTA, and served in the position for two consecutive terms since 2012. He served the LTA as an Executive Committee Member since 2005 when he was first elected into the committee as the Public Relations Officer and subsequently as the Secretary General in 2008.

In the same year, he was elected the Public Relations Officer of the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) and was re-elected to the same position in 2012 and again in 2017 for the term 2017/2021.

He has been the President of the Confederation of Southern African Taekwondo Associations (COSATA) since 2008. He served COSATA before as an Executive Committee Member and was subsequently appointed COSATA Referee’s Director before becoming the Vice President in 2012.

As the COSATA Referees Chairman, Molapo’s role was to manage all COSATA games.

The World Taekwondo Federation appointed him as the Technical Delegate at the 2013 Botswana Africa Youth Games held in Gaborone and was actually acting on behalf of the World Taekwondo Federation at the event.

The same year he was elected as an Executive Committee Member of the Commonwealth Taekwondo Union (CTU), and was three years later appointed as the CTU Referee Committee Member.

Born on March 12, 1973, Moshoeshoe Molapo is the son of the late Lapisi Molapo and ’Makatleho Mokake of Ha Hoohlo Maseru.

He obtained his Standard 7 Certificate at St Bernadette Primary School in Maseru in 1987, before he went to Mabathoana High School where he obtained his Junior Certificate (JC) in 1990 and Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) in 1992.   

After he finished high school, Molapo enrolled at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree.    

Before showing great interest in taekwondo, he was a footballer and played alongside the likes of Thapelo Liau who later joined Bloemfontein Celtic and Orlando Pirates in South Africa.

Even though he was a talented footballer, he left soccer for his beloved taekwondo in 1988 as a Form A learner at Mabathoana high.

Later that year, when the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) ventured into the initiative to build taekwondo clubs in schools, he joined his school club which was led by the late Sgt Reentseng Phafoli.

The former Government Treasurer Samson Rankoe Mphaka had already formed his own team, the Khubetsoana Taekwondo Club in 1985.  

Molapo competed in his first local tournament in 1988 and won first position in the fin weight division.

He had his first taste in international competition at the 5th All Africa Games in Cairo, Egypt in 1991 where he lost against an Egyptian competitor in the flyweight division.  

He quickly rose through the ranks and by 1989 when he joined the Khubetsoana Taekwondo Club, he was already a red belt.  

The club had great fighters like Donny Ntakha and Mokone Moahloli who were already black belts.

Like a fast learner, Molapo quickly made his mark in the club and soon earned his own black belt.

Prior to the 1999 All Africa Games, during a local competition, he fought Danken Lenoesa who was the flyweight national champion.

“It was a deadly fight but Lenoesa won because he was a superior fighter,” Molapo recalls.

His best performance as a referee was when he won the best International Referee Award twice. His worst performance as an athlete was at the 1999 World Military Games where he lost badly to the unstoppable Korean fighter.

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He recalls his worst moment as a referee at the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships where he had not been in good health.

When he retired from competitive taekwondo in 1999, he was appointed to serve LTA as part of Finance and Marketing Committee which was managed by Mphaka who was the LTA Vice President Finance at the time.  

In 2019, he was appointed as the Vice-President for Africa Police Taekwondo Confederation (APTAC), representing the Southern region whereby his role is to ensure the formation of police taekwondo associations in southern African countries.

During his term as LTA president, Lesotho hosted an annual Korean Ambassador’s Team Cup Championship sponsored by the Korean Ambassador in Pretoria from 2014 until 2017.

Lesotho hosted the World Taekwondo Peace Corps Programmes and the Kukkiwon Programmes from 2014 to 2017.

As LTA President, Molapo coordinated the engagement of the Korean coach, Dukwhi Lee who was paid by his native country while mentoring taekwondo players in Lesotho.

He began working at as Sports Producer for Radio Lesotho in 2001 and later a producer for Seotlong programme before he joined the newsroom in 2008. 

A year later, he was appointed as Senior Producer for Lesotho Television before he became the Executive Producer in 2013. His role is to produce current affairs, Thaha-Meso and Seotlong programmes.

His other hobbies include swimming and shooting. He is married to ’Makholu Molapo and the couple has two children, a boy and a girl.



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