Robert Simbowe’s style is constant evolution. While some fighters might focus on a particular discipline – boxing, Muay Thai or jiu-jitsu – this 27-year-old EFC fighter is on a mission to explore the martial arts in his quest to be a better warrior in the cage.

Zambian-born, Robert started boxing at twenty before a friend suggested MMA. He gave it a shot and got hooked.  “If you want to be the best you have to train with the best,” Robert says. This mantra lead him to training at Fight Fit Militia, one of South Africa’s top MMA academies.  The training there opened his eyes to the reality of MMA in South Africa. “They’re professional there and I knew I had to step up my game,” he says.

(Read our article on Fight Fit Militia here)

Fighting in mixed martial arts is a hard road for anybody, particularly for a fighter in Africa where the sport is still in its infancy.  But Robert didn’t let that stop him. He got his professional fighting licence (thanks, largely, he says to his crowd-pleasing fighting style) and was asked to fight in the EFC, the biggest MMA organisation in South Africa.

His first fight against Stefan Pretorius was the best start he could have hoped for. He caught his opponent in a devastating heel hook that finished the fight instantly, and his professional fighting career started in earnest.

Now he’s moved down to Cape Town, his accommodation sponsored by Cape Town Backpackers, and fighting out of Top Primate gym under trainer Rowan Katzew. Having a good team is crucial to making it as a fighter, and Robert says Rowan is helping him take his skills to the next level. “Rowan has a really strategic mind. He can dissect my opponent’s game and then train me specifically toward their strength and weaknesses.”


He’s also been training jiu-jitsu at Renzo Gracie Cape Town under Kurdt George to hone his ground skills. “Jiu-jitsu has been one of the biggest contributors to my career,” Robert says. “I come from a striking background and these days it’s essential to have a well-rounded game.”

Robert has no reservations about his upcoming fight on the 7th November against Conrad Seabi. “Whatever he has I’ll be ready for it.”

Rob’s Training Top Training Tip

Have an open mind

Even if you’re a black belt you can learn things from new disciplines and training partners. Don’t let your ego get in the way of learning. Robert is a professional fighter but he’ll go to jiu-jitsu class and get tapped out by amateurs.  “It’s about constantly evolving and having heart. You’ve got to have heart. I’m really in this game because I want to give back. The martial arts have given me a lot and I want to help give that to kids in Zambia.”

And that’s not just talk Robert and Top Primate are going to run a three day development workshop for the children of Lusaka in conjunction with Lusaka Backpackers.

You can follow Robert on Facebook here

Read more about MMA, including interviews with Garreth “SoldierBoy” McLellan and Don Madge