FOR 52-year-old lodge owner and professional hunter, Craig Leslie Hunt, who possesses a striking resemblance to former Liverpool and Zimbabwe Warriors soccer team goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelaar, soccer isn’t a passion, as he prefers a different sport entirely — racing pigeons.Casually dressed in sports shoes, shorts and a safari shirt, Hunt explained the irony of being the spitting image of former Warriors, Liverpool and Highlanders goalie, who was known as the Jungleman in the English football.
“A few years ago my wife and I went to buy plants for the lodge at one of the municipal gardens. When we got there one of the workers gave me a strange look, as if he knew me. He asked me if I was Bruce and I jokingly and casually nodded in agreement but asked him not to tell the other workers. Before I knew it he had blown the whistle and I was immediately surrounded by people asking to shake my hand and just to chat with me.
“As I was now surrounded by people I then told them I was joking but they refused to acknowledge the joke. I, however, managed to go about my business,” he said.
Hunt also mentioned that because of his stunning resemblance he had gained popularity and at one instance had been mistaken for Grobbelaar at a police controlled roadblock.
“Even at roadblocks police officers mistake me for Bruce. As people went on about how much I look like Bruce I looked up his profile on the internet and it was as though I was looking at myself in the mirror. He is, however, much taller than me and obviously our physical appearances are different, as he is a sportsperson and I am not,” he said.
Hunt said he knew Bruce was a Bulawayo boy but never actually met him.
“He is two years older than me. He went to Hamilton while I was at Gifford. I used to live in Kensington and the idea of playing soccer was dreadful as I would ride a bike to and from school. Soccer is a skill game compared to rugby, the sport that I preferred,” he said.
Hunt said he didn’t really have an interest in soccer but followed it just like everybody else did.
“I do have an interest in soccer but not that much. Sports are a great past-time recreation that bring people regardless of race together. I watched almost all the games during the World Cup,” said Hunt.
Born in Livingstone, Zambia, in 1963, Hunt told Sunday Leisure that he moved to Zimbabwe, with his family when he was about a year old.
“We moved to Zimbabwe in 1964, when I was about a year old. I attended Khumalo Primary School, where I preferred sports to academics. I enjoyed athletics and a bit of football. After primary I went to Gifford High School, where I played rugby, as I was more into brute sports. I still was into athletics as well but not soccer. I went as far as O-level, as I really wasn’t into academics,” he said.
Soon after sitting for his O-levels, Hunt said he left Zimbabwe for the United Kingdom but returned after 16 months.
“I then joined the police force and was stationed under the Support Unit for three years, under the border patrol and anti-poaching unit. After I left the police fraternity I became a professional hunter and was working at the Lion and Elephant hotel in Bubi. That is where I met my wife.
I then started my own company, Craig Hunt Safaris, which I ran for nine years. I then built and established this lodge, which I have put my heart and soul into. We established the lodge in 1995 and called it Southern Comfort. We built this from scratch and now we also have incorporated a beautiful outdoor wedding venue,” he said.
Hunt said he married his wife Lesley in 1986 and they have two children, a daughter and a son.
“Our daughter is an up and coming writer and our son is studying politics in South Africa,” he said.
Besides looking like Bruce Grobbelaar, Hunt enjoys racing pigeons, a rare but extraordinary sport. He said he had won several races with some of his pigeons and was soon to enter a race, which has $150 000 as prize money.
“I have about 140 pigeons, which I bred and all tagged with homing devices, which we use to determine their whereabouts during and after the races,” he said.