‘I am self-made, you’re just affiliated,’ the big-bearded American rapper Rick Ross croons in the middle of his 2010 smash hit “Blowin’ Money Fast,” which has amassed 49 million views on YouTube.
It is a line that I have always felt a deeper connection to, much as how a line from one of William Shakespeare’s numerous poems or a Winston Churchill quotation would motivate future generations.
If there was one person in Zimbabwe, who could adopt this line as his own and be spared court action for plagiarism by the originator, that man is Nicholas Hwende(pictured).
The American would immediately agree that the Zimbabwean mixed martial arts fighter (MMA) tale rhymes flawlessly with his songs after hearing the Hwende tell his tale.
Hwende can teach Zimbabweans that perseverance and the ability to get back up after a knock are the keys to success.
The 26 year old, better known by his ring name Gokwe Boy, won the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) global bantamweight title by defeating Brazilian Gian Souza last Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa. During the fight, the star broke his finger, but he kept on fighting.
Not too many fighters would come back from that, but the show of strength of character and resilience to be admired manifested itself in the young pugilist.
While he needs to stay in the ring, Hwende has to step out of the box and look to turn fame into more fortune than just the ticket sales, prize money and sponsorships.
This comes barely a year after Hwende made his debut appearance in MMA and went on to defeat South African MMA fighter Themba Mkhize in the second round through a technical knockout.
Born and bred in Gokwe, Zimbabwe, Hwende started his boxing journey in South Africa, where he initially started out fighting in South Africa’s Amateur Championships.
After impressing in the amateur championships, Gokwe Boy made his professional debut in the EFC on 14 August 2021.
In Zimbabwe we tend to confine our model success story to the one guy who went through the school system, accumulated academic papers and rose to CEO or minister, or the other one, who started off selling fruits in Mbare or hawking small goodies in the ghetto and now owns several shopping arcades.
While Hwende is still miles away from the monetary and social status of your archetypal CEO, politician or property tycoon, he is in many plain clear and intricate ways every bit an admirable Zimbabwe success story as the best of them.
How a man hailing from a deprived background has taken a prior-to unknown discipline to the forefront of Zimbabwe sport, turning himself into a prime-time news item, one-stop quote centre, traffic stopper and the talk of town and village still beggars belief years after he first hit the scene.
But the success story to aspire goes beyond the initial rise to fame; it is even more in the bouncing back after the initial hyperbole on the streets and airwaves had ended in anti-climactic defeats in the ring and unanimously being written off.
The most quotable athlete since Muhammad Ali has to copyright those insanely hilarious one-liners; the man who is outgrowing the back pages has to overall patent and then aggressively market and sell a brand with the nascent potential to transcend sport.
We haven’t earned the right to be but we are cynics in Zimbabwe, we dismiss and belittle; but we also buy big time into those who think and act big, and so Hwende should not sell himself short.
To the two and to the rest of the country, Hwende has to have the confidence to borrow from Rick Ross and that BMF hit an intone ‘… I built it ground up, you bought it renovated …’
Hwende is standing at a record of 4-0-0