In the kaleidoscope of sports, we often witness narratives of resilience and audacity, transforming athletes from ordinary individuals into global icons. One narrative that echoes these sentiments is the tale of 32-year-old Zimbabwean professional mixed martial artist, Gorimbo Themba, popularly known as “The Answer”. This narrative, a blend of hardship and inspiration, traces Gorimbo’s trajectory from humble beginnings to a stage of global recognition.
Gorimbo was born and brought up in Bikita, Zimbabwe. His early life, fraught with hardship, was punctuated by the untimely loss of both his parents by the time he was 13. This tragedy pushed him into a life of illicit diamond mining in the treacherous Marange fields. In these dire circumstances, Gorimbo discovered his ability to embrace risks and draw upon resilience, the very traits that would later define his career.
However, a disturbing brush with law enforcement left Gorimbo scarred. During an arrest, he was severely mauled by German shepherds. This painful incident became a turning point, sparking a profound mental shift that catalyzed his journey to become more than a mere survivor.
Turning his focus to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Gorimbo discovered a purpose and refuge from his painful past. At 6’1″, he entered the MMA arena at 18, making his professional debut in 2013. He has since evolved into a formidable contender in the UFC welterweight division, boasting an impressive 11-4-0 professional record. His journey is a testament to determination and tenacity.
A notable feature of Gorimbo’s persona is his unwavering commitment to his homeland. Despite his personal challenges, he prioritizes the welfare of his native village, auctioning off his fight kits to fund a water well. This selfless act is a mirror of his character, valuing community upliftment over personal enrichment.
Gorimbo’s financial struggles ahead of his second UFC fight made headlines. “I came to America seven weeks ago without money. I only had enough to get to the airport and the gym,” he said. “I stayed at the gym until a friend sent me $200.” Coming off his first win over Takashi Sato, Gorimbo told the media that he was broke heading into his second UFC fight. Revealing that he had only $7.49 in his bank account. After his win over Sato, Gorimbo sold his fight gear (trunks & gloves) online and made $7,000. Instead of using the money to find a place to live, he built a borehole water system so his village back in Zimbabwe can have clean water.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was deeply moved by Gorimbo’s story. “I once had $7 bucks too,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ve been there on that grind. Got your back, brother. I’ll help. You got this.” Johnson’s empathy stemmed from his own experience of financial hardship, which was the inspiration behind his production company’s name, ‘Seven Bucks Productions.’ In an act of solidarity, he surprised Gorimbo with the gift of a new home.
Gorimbo’s story extends beyond his quest for the UFC championship; it is a tale of the resilience of the human spirit, the determination to overcome adversity, and a commitment to the community. His journey serves as a reminder that resilience can overcome any challenge and that every person has the potential to make a positive impact.
Gorimbo thanked Johnson and promised to use the money he had saved for a house to build another well in Zimbabwe. His words, “You inspired me to work hard. I will become a champion, trust me,” encapsulates his resolve.
The moving story of Gorimbo and Johnson’s heartwarming gesture has touched hearts globally, earning applause from sports celebrities and fans. This includes UFC fighter Israel Adesanya, popularly known as Stylebender, who responded with a teary and love emoji, and South African musician Cassper Nyovest.
Kiri Gumunyu – Mangena, a Zimbabwean, encapsulated the sentiment of many, saying, “You’re our country’s greatest hero right now. Your love for Temba was so far-reaching; we literally felt every bit of it.” Gorimbo may be an MMA fighter, but his battle for a better life for his family and community truly makes him a champion.