From “HOPELESS” to “HOPE”, the story of two-time Olympian Prince Mumba of Zambia

Prince Mumba
Prince Mumba
Prince Mumba

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

Ashley Avis and Prince Mumba
Ashley Avis and Prince Mumba

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 Mumba
Prince Mumba

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.

Prince Mumba
Prince Mumba

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”.

Ashley Avis and Prince Mumba
Ashley Avis and Prince Mumba

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.


The entire story here with photos:

Prince Mumba
Prince Mumba


  1. Heard this name so many times when the Olympics are around but the name never won a medal for mother Zambia. This is Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya of Golf. Same.

  2. The story is vague and exaggerated to a certain extent like the issue of owning a pair of left sided shoes. It is practically impossible to wear such a pair. Story does not mention which town school, when? Not worth reading without specifics!

  3. Inspiration is always a good thing. Wayne Van Niekerk’s story had a happier and more successful olympic outcome but nothing wrong with supporting this even if it’s more about perseverance than success. Maybe Matete the movie would be a great one to tell to raise the bar for those inspired to run. In the meantime Bolt has us all covered.

  4. A typical stereotyped portrayal of an african beggar.
    Just the inspiration in the tale should have been enough to lure sponsorship. Check the Queen of Katwe.
    Athens was in 2004 & London 2012.

  5. prince should not lie. he should not win sympathy out of people that are ready to cooked up stories just to win afew dollars. the chap has failed to win anything for zambia, always last.

  6. Well done Prince. You are an Inspiration to many young people in Zambia. I saw first hand the hard work you put in during training. Even though you did not receive support from many, you pressed on and I believe God saw your determination and honored you tremendously. Off-course their those who don’t even know your story but they hide behind a keyboard on a Computer to voice idiocy which hold no water whatsoever. Be encourage Prince God is on your side. When you see individuals who don’t even know you post nasty comments about you see it as a sign that God is preparing a Table before you in the presence of your enemies. Dogs always bark on moving objects. Let the haters bark and keep on moving. The Best is yet to come.

  7. Success is not winning a medal at the Olympics. I know Prince. He has helped so many people including myself. He’s not telling a story to earn money, but to help the up coming athletes. Keep it up prince. I can’t believe some people from your country won’t support you.

Comments are closed.