When South Africa’s first black MMA champion woke up after a 10-day coma to discover he’s turned blind, he knew the fight has just begun.
Ronald Dlamini is South Africa’s first black welterweight champion, gaining a win-loss record of 6-3 throughout his career under FightForce Promotions. The pride of KwaZulu-Natal started out young in the world of combat sports and since then decided to be the best.
Dlamini initially trained in Kyokushin karate before switching to kickboxing at 19 and taking up Muay Thai later on. The South African fighter gained the moniker that endures to this day on his Muay Thai debut: “Black Mamba.”
As his MMA reputation grew, the welterweight contender experienced racial slurs from a prominent white fighter’s online post. Despite this, Dlamini kept his mouth shut and won a South African welterweight title match in silence in 2010.
After such bout, Dlamini became the first black welterweight champion in the history of South Africa. Speaking of the opponent he made quick work with, the former champ exclaimed:
“I had him down on the floor. His coach was shouting things he should do. But I kept telling him, ‘It’s not going to work, baby!’”
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Next level Athletes!! 🙏🏽💪🏽 #Repost – In 2009 #RonaldDlamini became the first black MMA champion in South African history by claiming the welterweight title. However, his life changed in 2012 after a fight in New Zealand when Ronald was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with meningitis. He was in a coma for 10 days and, when he awoke, discovered he was blind. Ronald immediately vowed to return the ring and now he trains beginners, as well developing a self-defence programme for the visually impaired based on #mma #daredevil
However, two years after retiring from mixed martial arts, he started to suffer days of headaches and a throbbing bloom of pain. He was later diagnosed with cureless meningitis.
After his diagnosis, the doctor left and a nurse allegedly injected him with a painkiller after seeing him in great agony, telling him not to tell the physician. Recalling the moment, Dlamini said:
“She took five steps back and I lost my sight. I was in a coma for 10 days. When I woke, I felt mad. I was trying to hit everyone – I thought I was in the ring.”
At that, Dlamini knew he had been handed a new challenge, choosing to rise to it with the same vigour that had brought him victory in the cage. He moved in with his family and did his best to still pursue fighting in darkness.
Currently, Dlamini is a mixed martial artist and coach. But aside from that, the “Black Mamba” found a greater calling — to teach self-defence to the visually-impaired.
“My hope for the future is to be able t train a lot more people, encourage, motivate others. Being blind cannot stop you from being successful.”
“Losing your sight humbles your spirit and demoralises you. To live is to suffer, but you have to find meaning within that suffering. I felt I was being given this cross because I could carry it.”
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/Blogvencerlimites and Instagram/Nathalia Santos