He didn’t have shoes until he was ten years old, but that didn’t discourage him from following his Olympic dream
By Ashley Avis
I met Prince Mumba in a Private Taxi four years ago. He was driving to send money back to his adopted son in Zambia, to put him through medical school , while training full time to compete in the Olympics in Rio.
The battery on my phone was low, so as I came down the steps of my old apartment in Los Angeles, I physically ran to my car to get a charger, and back to the taxi. I closed the door.
“Did you used to run?”
The question came from the soft-spoken driver in the front seat. I smiled politely (it was a unique question, after all). I told him, “yes, back in high school. In college. Did you used to run?”
“In high school?” I asked. “In college?”
“In the Olympics.” he mentioned simply.
I peered around my seat. Unique answer. Prince smiled his big humble and incredibly genuine Prince-smile. In that half hour car ride, I learned about his incredible story. By the time I got out of the car, I knew it was a story that needed to be told. Within the next few weeks, I would meet with Prince several times to learn more, and begin developing his life into a movie.
Prince was born as the eleventh child of eleven in Zambia. He grew up in extreme poverty, to the point of not owning a shirt or a pair of shoes until he was ten years old. His first pair of shoes, which he purchased for two dollars, were the product saving up pennies at a time washing cars and doing “piece work” (odd jobs). And even still, all he could afford to buy were an old used pair of shoes that were mismatched: they were literally two “left” shoes.
Prince revered them, only wearing them to church or on special occasions. As Prince says, “Well, it felt weird on the right side, but it fit!”
From a very early age, Prince had a dream that he would one day, he would become an Olympian. Now that’s an enormous aspiration for anyone, but especially for a young kid from the Copperbelt of Zambia. His friends told him that it was impossible and stupid. That the Olympics were only for “special people.”
“And I would always say…” Prince said, “That I’m special. And that’s why I’m going to go.”
A talented athlete from the start, Prince thought his ticket to the Games would be for soccer, but after an accident that almost ruined his knees, Prince thought his dream might be shattered. One day, however, everything changed.
One school day, his teacher was late and his class, unsupervised, began misbehaving. When the teacher walked in she was appalled at the ruckus that was being caused and decided to punish Prince and his classmates by making them run around the track several times.
It was on that day Prince learned he was very, very fast.
“We were forced to run around the track. And I got going. I got so far head, I thought the rest of the class had stopped running” he said. “I finished, and when I turned around, I realized they were all still running as fast as they could.”
Prince would go on to win local, and then regional, and eventually national championships. He would literally lap some of the fastest runners in Africa.
As a teenager Prince quickly caught the attention of prestigious sports programs and was recruited to the United States for college by Xavier University (Prince would later go on to run for Oral Roberts). He ran in the Olympics in 2004 in Athens, and 2012 in London. He broke the national record in Zambia for the eight-hundred meters, and has re-broken his own records many times.
He now resides in Los Angeles, California – training under the famous Joe Douglas the Santa Monica Track Club – and runs the Prince Mumba Track Club, teaching and inspiring children. His goal is beyond athletics: it’s about teaching young athletes that they too can follow and pursue what might seem like “an impossible dream”.
We are developing the feature film, entitled 800, for production in 2017.
On the heels of this, we decided to shoot a commercial featuring Prince for an annual competition held by Footlocker called “Real Lives x Real Runners”. If we win, our 60 second spot featuring Prince and his story has the chance of being broadcast on national television before the New York City marathon.
Please help tell Prince’s incredible story by voting for our sixty-second spot, “HOPE” , on the link below. It will redirect you to the Facebook poll, where you can select the video and submit. We need the support of our network and community to get Prince’s story into the world. You can vote once per day until Thursday, October 20th – votes reset at 9pm PST!
Please help us get “HOPE” and Prince’s story into the world. Perhaps someone else out there will be inspired that no matter what, they should never give up.
VOTE FOR “HOPE”!
The entire story here with photos: