SRC clears air over Gorimbo SA attire
Eddie Chikamhi-Senior Sports Reporter
THE Sports and Recreation Commission have cleared the misunderstanding which led to South Africa-based Zimbabwean Mixed Martial Arts star Themba Gorimbo fighting under the South African flag in his maiden victory of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the United States of America last weekend.
Gorimbo was in top form with a dominant all-round display as he beat Japan’s Takashi Sato at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas with a unanimous 30-27, 30-27 and 30-27 decision.
The win atoned for the disappointing guillotine choke loss he suffered at the hands of USA’s AJ Fletcher in his UFC debut earlier this year.
But the victory last weekend was overshadowed by Gorimbo’s choice of attire which resulted in him being referred to as South African.
The 2019 Zimbabwean Sportsperson of the Year fought in South Africa colours and revealed in the post-match interview that he could not wear Zimbabwean badges after he was frustrated by the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation in his efforts to get permission to use Zimbabwean garb.
But the Sports Commission revealed yesterday that Gorimbo’s situation was complicated as he had not renewed his registration with the local federation.
“The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) takes note of the recent post by Mr. Themba Gorimbo, the UFC Welterweight Champion who alleged that the ‘Zimbabwe Sports’ Minister refused to allow him to wear the Zimbabwean national colours for a match held on Saturday 20 May 2023,” said the Sports Commission statement yesterday.
“The approval to wear national colours requires an athlete or a national sporting association to undergo an assessment based on a national colours policy framework with specific protocols and procedures.
“There are no exceptions. SRC has established that Mr Gorimbo is not registered with the Zimbabwe Mixed Martial Arts Association. This association could have facilitated the process on his behalf had he been so registered with it.”
The statement from the sports regulator also said Gorimbo had sought the blessings of the Zimbabwean authorities on the eve of his match, which was late and made it impossible for the process to be executed on time.
“The SRC also notes that the match in question was publicised as early as 15 February 2023.
“However, Mr Gorimbo and his purported representatives only made a belated attempt to seek approval to wear national colours through WhatsApp on 17 May 2023 to a third party not in the employee of the SRC — three days before the match.
“At no point was a request ever made to the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts & Recreation. Even if he had done so, the Hon. Minister would have directed the request to the SRC for processing.
“The SRC strives to ensure equal opportunities for all regarding sport and recreation matters. In doing so, the SRC is guided by the SRC Act as supported by policies in executing its mandate.
“All athletes and registered national sporting associations are encouraged to follow these as they conduct their various sporting activities.
“Whilst the comments of Mr Gorimbo are regrettable they should not detract from his considerable achievement.
“The SRC takes this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Gorimbo on his win and wish him all the best in his sporting endeavors. The SRC will continue to try and contact him and his management in order to ensure that no similar misunderstanding occurs in future,” said the SRC statement.