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Poverty background drives our MMA success – Hwende

Hwende followed in the footsteps of Themba Gorimbo and Sylvester Chipfumbu, who have won EFC titles in recent years, after beating Brazilian Gian Souza in Johannesburg South Africa last week.

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE ZIMBABWE’S newly crowned Mixed Martial Arts Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) World bantamweight champion Nicholas ‘Gokwe Boy’ Hwende believes poverty is the reason why Zimbabweans have excelled in the sport in recent years.

Hwende followed in the footsteps of Themba Gorimbo and Sylvester Chipfumbu, who have won EFC titles in recent years, after beating Brazilian Gian Souza in Johannesburg South Africa last week.

Gorimbo, who recently landed a lucrative Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contract, won the EFC welterweight title in 2019 before Chipfumbu scooped the bantamweight belt in 2021.

And Gokwe Boy feels that all the champions from Zimbabwe are driven by their poor backgrounds.

“I think poverty strengthens a person physically and mentally. And also growing up in the rural areas our lives were always a fight and we will be fighting for nothing,” the 26-year-old fighter told The Sports Hub in an exclusive interview.

“So now when we see that fighting can bring food on the table it becomes a career, we then take it so seriously. When we get an opportunity to fight for something we make sure that we win whatever it takes.

“I can say Chipfumbu and Gorimbo have won because they have a similar background with me growing in poverty. The good thing is we are flying Zimbabwe’s flag and hopefully we are inspiring many youngsters out there but my plea is that we get a lot of Zimbabweans who can support us with sponsorship so that we can also achieve our dreams,” he said.

Gorimbo grew up an orphan in Masvingo after his mother died when he was nine, and his father died when he was 13 while Gweru-bred Chipfumbu also had a poor upbringing.

However Hwende was delighted to win the title barely two years after turning professional.

“It feels great to win the title for the first time. I had to put in so much work so I think I deserve it. And after this achievement I am sure I am going to go far. I am confident that I am going to reach the UFC stage. I am going to try and defend my title as many times as possible,” Hwende said.

Hwende chronicled the MMA journey dream began when he was a young boy growing up in Gokwe.

“It started a long time ago growing up in the rural areas watching movies, training with other guys in Karate, Kyokushin and kickboxing so when I came here to SA I joined an MMA gym and the rest is history. Now I am champion barely two after turning professional.

“When I was young the dream was not to become a mixed martial arts superstar. I was very bright in school so I wanted to become a doctor at first and then I wanted to be a policeman. But I liked movies a lot. Sometimes I would change and feel I wanted to become a soldier.

“I was just a strong boy growing up since poverty strengthened our bones so when I saw some martial arts fights that’s when I thought I could do this.  I come from Gokwe but I think when you want something and you chase it you can succeed,”he said.

Hwende who attended Gokwe and Nyamasaka Primary Schools before moving to Njelele High school and Gumunyu High School respectively comes from a strong Seventh Day Adventist background.

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