Back in 2009, “The Black Mamba” Ronald Dlamini (6-3, 1 NC) became the first black MMA champion in the South African history, claiming the welterweight title in a reputable fight promotion. Several years later, his life took a disastrous turn, as he was hospitalized with meningitis, and after a 10-day coma, ultimately wound up completely blind.
“My life changed in 2012,” Ronald Dlamini said in a new documentary from The Guardian, which can be viewed above. “I got a strong headache and I felt very sick. I was rushed to the hospital with meningitis, and I was in a coma for 10 days. When I woke up, I realized I was completely blind. This is very difficult for me but I have never given up because of my blindness.”
Despite this massive an unexpected obstacle, Dlamini stayed focused, continued to train in MMA, and even developed an MMA-based training system tailored toward visually-impaired people.
“When I started meeting other blind people, they told me they were often victims of rape and robbery,” he said. “I realized that I had a new goal in life: to teach other visually-impaired people how to fight back. I designed a self-defense course for them that is based on MMA. I want to get the message out to blind people all over the world. MMA is the perfect sport for them.”
“The greatest champions have been knocked out in there lives,” Dlamini concludes in the video above. “But it is very important how you come back. I don’t think that we really know what we’re capable of until our limits are tested.”
What do you think of the story of Ronald Dlamini? Join the conversation in the comments section.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 10/3/2017.