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Gymnastics | In Memoriam – Jerry Masia


It is with deep sadness that Gymnastics South Africa learnt of the passing of its former President and Life Member, Jerry Masia, over the Easter Weekend.

Jerry Masia became involved in gymnastics in 1976. As a young 21-year-old teacher, he approached Gwen De Jong, Administrative Director of the then South African Amateur Gymnastics Union (SAAGU) and Elizabeth Cameron-Smith, Technical Director of SAAGU, as he wanted to introduce gymnastics to the children of Mamelodi. Together they obtained a grant, from the Anglo-American Chairmans’ Fund to establish three gymnastics clubs in Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and  Soshanguve, thus, expanding the transformation programme of the SAAGU. Santie van Tubbergh mentored and trained the coaches and judges from these three communities in the old Mamelodi Beer Hall.

In 1980, Jerry became a member of the then Northern Transvaal Development Board. In 1987, he joined the Northern Transvaal Education Department and finally in 1994 the Gauteng Department of Sport. At the same time, Jerry climbed the ladder in the gymnastics Federation as a coach, judge, and administrator, serving on the Gauteng School’s and the SAAGU National Gymnastics Executive Committees. He earned his stripes on the Artistic Woman’s Technical Committee, the only male member with six white women. Jerry played a major role in establishing school’s gymnastics nationally and spreading gymnastics into communities throughout South Africa.

Jerry helped to re-open the door for Gymnastics internationally. In 1991 as a member of the South African delegation, he attended the Artistic World Championships, in Indianapolis, USA. He, together with Brian Le Roux, SAGF Life Member, represented South Africa at a special meeting with the FIG (International Gymnastics’ Federation), after which the South African Gymnastics Federation (SAGF) was allowed to re-enter the international sporting arena and participate in the gymnastics championships, effectively ending South African gymnastics moratorium.

A year later, in 1992, SAGF became a full member of the South African Olympic Confederation and The African Gymnastics Union. Jerry served under SAGF president Hugo Olivier and in 1999 succeeded Hugo when he was elected and became the first black President of SAGF, serving from 1999 to 2015. He represented the Federation at numerous national, international, African and world gymnastic meetings, competitions, and events. He also represented South Africa as Head of Delegation of SASCOC to the World Games in 2009. Jerry served as a member and then Vice President of the African Gymnastics Union under Ali Zaater, of Algeria.

Over the many years of Jerry’s involvement in gymnastics, he worked very closely with SAGF CEOs, Elizabeth Cameron-Smith and Tseko Mogotsi forming lifelong friendships with them and his gymnastics colleagues. Tseko Mogotsi, now African Development Co-Ordinator for the FIG, remarked as follows:

“My memory of bra-Jerry (how I used to call him) is not only as the president of the federation but more of a father figure. As head of delegation on National Team travels, I remember he was very quick to solve problems and went the extra mile to ensure the team could focus on the job at hand. He was a kind person and cared deeply about the well-being of everyone - the gymnasts, coaches, officials and staff.”

Elizabeth Cameron-Smith, FIG Council Member remarked:

“I have had the pleasure and honour of working side by side with Jerry over many decades. I have watched him grow from a young man, passionate about gymnastics and transforming our sport. One thing that stands out over the years is the way he always treated women with respect. On our many trips, he always spoke fondly of his wife, Maude. I also recall his love for his children. I recall, on our various international travels together, how he always bought his sons sports shoes. We were a great team together, always putting Gymnastics first.”

Jerry was a friend to all, who always put the welfare of the gymnasts first. He retired as President of the SAGF in 2015 and became an Honorary Life president of the Federation.

Jerry was a family man and extremely proud of his wife; Maude’s achievement, a qualified attorney, serving in the Department of Justice. He leaves behind two sons and a grandson, both of whom he was extremely proud of.

I had the honour of spending quality time with Jerry in the early 1990s when we were both selected by the National Sports Council to represent South Africa at a facilitator's training course in the United Kingdom, hosted by the British Sports Council. We travelled together from Johannesburg and visited Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham amongst others. On our return, we were instrumental in developing the 1st sports facilitator’s training course in South Africa. 

Gymnastics South Africa would like to extend their deepest condolences to his wife Maude, his two sons, and his grandson, as well as extending our thanks to them for sharing Jerry’s life with the gymnastics fraternity.

We are eternally grateful for the enormous contribution and value that Jerry has added to Gymnastics, as well as the inspiration to so many. 

May his dear soul rest in eternal peace.

Donny Jurgens

President, Gymnastics South Africa


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