A champion South African MMA fighter has described how he has remained in the fight game despite suddenly going blind in New Zealand five years ago.

A Guardian video has highlighted the career of welterweight Ronald "the Black Mamba" Dlamini, described as the first black man to win a South African MMA championship.

He won the title in 2009, but three years later was struck by meningitis while in New Zealand for a fight. After 10 days in a coma, Dlamini awoke to find he had lost his sight.

But the KwaZulu-Natal raised fighter remains undaunted, returning to the training ring primarily as a coach for beginners while also developing an MMA-based defence programme for other blind people.


"This was very difficult for me but I have never given up because of my blindness," he tells the Guardian.

"I train beginners how to fight and use all their senses, not just their sight.

"I listen to my opponent's breathing - that's how I know they are tired or weak. Footsteps tell me where he is.

"As soon as I make any contact, I know where the rest of the body weight is and I strike. I learnt where opponents tend to hit back, and now I anticipate their move."

Dlamini says other blind people are "often victims of rape and robbery".

This gave him a new goal - to teach them how to fight back.

"I want to get the message to blind people all over the world," he says.

Strangely prophetic, Dlamini and his coach Rhyne Hassan used to train blindfolded.


Hassan told News24: "It's amazing how he ends up motivating us. He has never lost passion or hope in the sport. He is still the same guy he was when he could see...he has grown into this motivating champion."

Dlamini concludes: "We don't know what we really are capable of until our limits are tested.

"The greatest fighters have been knocked out but it is very important how you come back."

Posted by Ronald Dlamini on Friday, 11 August 2017