MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For more than half a century, Jimmy Kimble has walked through the doors at Republic Services ready to do one thing: work.
It’s what he expects from the seven men he manages at the waste and recycling company.
“Come to work ready to work. Don’t say I want a job, and then not wanting to work,” Kimble said.
Boy, does he work. The 72-year-old first started at Republic in his teens. Fifty-five years later, he’s preparing to clock out for the last time.
Well, sort of.
“Tomorrow is the last official day, but I’ve been here 55 years. I’ll forever be here.”
His colleagues agree.
“We will be in constant contact,” said Cedrick White. “He still will be a phone call away.”
His life reads like a page turner.
Kimble came to Memphis as a teenager from the same Mississippi town Oprah Winfrey’s from. After starting at Republic, he soon became a pro wrestler after being challenged.
“They said, ‘You can’t be a wrestler.’ When someone tells me what I can’t do, it made me try even harder to do that,” Kimble said.
His wrestling career has taken him all over the world and given him some precious moments, like touring in Japan.
But it’s a moment in 1990 Kimble cherishes. King Cobra, as he was known in the ring, went head-to head against another powerhouse, Memphis’ own Jerry “The King” Lawler — and won.
“The icing on the cake — I won the crown also.”
In case you’re wondering, Kimble only missed one day in his 55 years here. He broke his leg during a wrestling match and was forced to take off on a Monday to have it wrapped. He was back to work on Tuesday.
There really is a sign that stands outside Republic Services that stands as an example of who he is, and what he does. It reads, “Always ready and willing to guide the next generation whether it’s in the shop or in the ring.”