Sleeping on streets to being UFC heavyweight champion: The incredible story of Francis Ngannou

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Francis Ngannou’s incredible story isn’t solely a rags-to-riches story but in addition how he went by means of hell to attain the brass ring on the high.

Rising from grinding poverty in Cameroon, staring demise within the face throughout his travels in Africa to being homeless on the streets of Paris, he suffered all of it earlier than rebuilding his life and turning into the newly-crowned UFC heavyweight champion.

‘The Predator’ scripted historical past when he turned the primary African to win the heavyweight championship, knocking out Stipe Miocic along with his fierce punches at UFC 260.

The powerful begin

Life was laborious and unfair for Ngannou proper from the start as he had to begin working in a sand quarry from the age of 10 to assist his single mom.

“I hated this place growing up…I hated the sand mine, everything, I hated my life…Sometimes you’d argue with a rat in the trash…It really hurts me to remember everything where I came from…,” Ngannou stated in a current interview for the podcast ‘Joe Rogan Experience’.

It was then, on the age of 17, that he determined to focus on what was inside his energy and alter for the higher. He determined to turn into a fighter and moved to Morocco in pursuit of his dream. However, there have been a number of hiccups earlier than he might lastly attain his objective.

Fighting with rats

During his journey from Cameroon to Morocco, Ngannou crossed borders illegally, lived in a bush and scrounged the trash to discover meals.

His progress was halted a number of instances within the Sahara Desert the place he had to drink water from animal-infested wells.

Francis Ngannou’s journey was crammed with twists and turns. (Twitter)

When he lastly did attain the promised land of Europe, there was yet one more roadblock — he was jailed for illegally crossing the Morocco-Spain border by sea. After his launch two months later, Ngannou fled to France.

Paris & Parking Lots

“I was homeless then, but at that moment, it wasn’t difficult for me anymore. You might think being homeless in Paris in the fall when it’s cold was not great, but the enthusiasm that I had at that time… Beyond everything, I was happy to be in the land of opportunity,” he stated. This half of his life is what he remembers because the happiest as a result of he was ever so shut to his dream.

“Even though I was sleeping in parking lots and I didn’t have food or money, I was just free. Compared to where I was in Morocco, a parking lot was like a five-star hotel,” he recalled.

To make ends meet, Ngannou labored at a homeless shelter ‘Lo Chorba’ the place his job was to chop greens. It was right here that his life lastly took a flip for the higher when the director of the La Chorba basis launched him to Didier Carmont, who ran a boxing coaching centre in Paris.

Carmont launched him to the MMA Factory in Paris and it was right here that Ngannou, who idolises Mike Tyson, began studying boxing for the primary time in his life. “Until I went to France, in 2013, that was the first time then I walked to the gym,” Ngannou stated, casting his thoughts again to his early years.

Recollecting his coach’s phrases, the 35-year-old stated, “They said if you need the faster (road to fame and fortune), you have to do MMA. Then I’m like, what’s MMA? What’s mixed martial arts? I didn’t know UFC at the time, I didn’t know what was UFC.”

Living the dream

In November 2013, roughly three months after starting his MMA coaching, Ngannou made his debut and registered a first-round win through submission. He acquired an quantity of two thousand Euros, one thing which he treasures to date.

“Two thousand Euros! Wow, that was my first money in Europe. I call Africa, I’m like ‘Hey mom, you have to celebrate this, because it’s March 8th, you can have a special international women’s day. Your son is out here and (can) take (you) out to dinner,” he stated.

By April 2014, ‘The Predator’ gained his first heavyweight match and in 2015, he was on the radar of the UFC with whom he penned a contract.

In 2018, when Ngannou, as a 32-year-old was on the edge of being a champion, he was stopped by Stipe Miocic at UFC 220. Taking the defeat in his stride, Ngannou labored tougher to come again stronger and after three lengthy years, he lastly had a shot at redemption.

This time, Francis Ngannou would present why he’s the all-conquering beast as he knocked out Miocic within the second spherical of their rematch, thus fulfilling his boyhood dream.

Ngannou has now gone on to create the Francis Ngannou Foundation – a charity that provides folks in his village the prospect to obtain their goals in the identical manner he has. He has constructed the primary official fitness center in his hometown, Batie and hopes to open many extra throughout Africa.

“A lot of children now in Cameroon, because of me, they have a dream. They say, ‘I will be a champion in MMA. I will do boxing like Francis,’ because they saw me when I was young. I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have any opportunity. And today, they see me and they are dreaming. They are thinking that something is possible. Even when they are so poor, something is possible in life… It’s not easy. It’s so hard, but it’s possible.”

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