From Homelessness To UFC Heavyweight Champion: The True Life Story Of Francis Ngannou’s

Born in Batié, Cameroon, Francis Ngannou growing up lived in poverty and had little formal education. At age six, Ngannou’s parents divorced  and he was sent to live with his aunt. At 10 years old, Ngannou started working in a sand quarry in Batié because of a lack of funds. As a youngster, Ngannou was approached by several gangs in his village to join them. He refused and instead decided to use his father’s negative reputation as a street fighter as motivation to do something positive and pursue boxing.

At the age of 22, Ngannou began training in boxing, despite the initial reluctance of his family.[  After training for a year, Ngannou stopped training due to an illness. He did various odd jobs to make ends meet, until at the age of 26, he decided to head to ParisFrance, to pursue professional boxing. However upon reaching Europe, he was jailed for two months in Spain for illegally crossing the border. After Ngannou reached Paris, he had no money, no friends, and no place to live After living homeless on the streets of Paris, he was introduced by a friend to Fernand Lopez and the MMA factory.] Being a fan of Mike Tyson, Ngannou was originally interested in learning how to box but Lopez saw his potential in MMA and convinced him to try MMA instead. Lopez gave Ngannou some MMA gear and allowed him to train and sleep at the gym for no cost thus starting Ngannou’s MMA career.

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‘’When I started, I had nothing. Nothing. I needed everything. But when you start [to earn money], you starting collecting things: I want this, I want this, I want that. The purpose is not collecting things, though. The purpose is to do something great. Finish the dream you started.’’ He said

Ngannou made history on Saturday night, becoming the first African to win the heavyweight championship after he knocked out Stipe Miocic at UFC 260.

‘The Predator’ lived up to his nickname, delivering a series of devastating punches to put away Miocic in the second round of their rematch from 2018.

It’s been a long road for Ngannou to get to this point of his career, his extraordinary life thus far being filled with sacrifices along the way.

“You would have to go to the market at night time to go find food in the trash,” Ngannou told the Joe Rogan Experience.

“Sometimes you’d argue with a rat in the trash – ‘Get away from this tomato, it’s mine, this rotten tomato is mine, not yours.'”

It’s no wonder that Ngannou isn’t adverse to hard work – it’s all he’s known. From the age of 10, he was forced to dig at a local sand quarry just to provide for his single mother and his aunt, with whom he also lived with.

Other jobs, including a motorcycle taxi driver, were also part and parcel of Ngannou’s day in order to just get the basics, even going to school with no pens or even a bag.

Ngannou had a dream. He decided to leave Cameroon to pursue a much more prosperous life and a new beginning. Sadly, there were many false starts before he could write his own story.

Making his way up to Algeria in northern Africa, Ngannou’s progress was halted no fewer than six times, continuously ending up back in the Sahara desert with nothing but animal-infested wells to drink from.

Initially wanting to be a boxer, Ngannou began training as an MMA fighter, before his fist fight took place in November 2013. The rest, as they say, is history.

Eventually landing himself a UFC contract in 2015, Ngannou has gone from strength to strength. His first fight in the business was a sign of things to come as he emphatically knocked out Luis Henrique.

His rise to heavyweight champion may seem meteoric; in reality it has been anything but.

Ngannou has suffered a huge amount of turmoil and setbacks on his journey, making victory for himself and the people of Cameroon even more sweet as he inspires a new generation of African fighters.

He hasn’t forgotten his roots either. ‘The Francis Ngannou Foundation’ has been set up back in his homeland, providing young people with the facilities and opportunities he was starved of when he was young. He even gets his hands dirty by helping out at the same sand quarry from time to time.

Francis Ngannou has achieved the dream that forever looked unlikely. He continues to write his own story and it remains to be seen what the next chapter on this incredible fairy tale will look like



Sallu Kamuskay

Sallu Kamuskay is a Sierra Leonean activist, storyteller, and blogger. He was born in Sierra Leone but later relocated to Guinea as a refugee because of the war in his country. Sallu Kamuskay uses his phone to engage on social media, under the name ‘’Salone Messenger’. He Co-Founded the Salone Messenger platform after his experience of the war, Ebola, and injustices. According to him, silence was the root cause of war, and of many social injustices, we continue to face as a nation. In 2013, during the Ebola crisis, Sallu Kamuskay took the risk and volunteered to fight Ebola. He spent some months in both safe and unsafe places; helping the victims and telling their sad stories. The election in 2018, left a divided country with communities fighting on tribal lines. This inspired Sallu Kamuskay to serve as the coordinator of the United Sierra Leone peace concert, which was organized in 4 major parts of the country, targeting violent communities and troubled youth. Sallu Kamuskay led a group of entertainers, activists, and organizations across the country on a peace tour, a program supported by the European Union, United Sierra Leone, Africa Union, ECOWAS, and the Messeh Leone Trust. Sallu Kamuakay has also served as a staff writer for the Hidden Voices Magazine. Over the years, Sallu Kamuskay has been using his Techno phone to be able to tell stories, the phone he used to tell the story of Gbessay during Ebola who was admitted at one of the Ebola treatment centers after rumors that she had Ebola when the actual sickness was ulcer, she was almost abandoned at the treatment canter with no medication provided to her. She could have died. Sallu told the story via social media and was able to secure funding from the United Sierra Leone to buy her medication and advocated for her. She was later discharged and taken home, He did the same to a patient that died and was abandoned in the street, Sallu Kamuskay used his phone and shared the message across, the corps was later taken and buried. It could have been more disaster without his voice. The story of late America Stress 3-year-old daughter. The hero’s daughter was abandon after his father's death. He shared her sad story and was able to get a sister who has taken the child as her own and is currently providing her with educational support. The article of America Stress can be read on the link below Sallu Kamuskay feels the stories of Gbessay, America stress and that of many others need to be told. The media house we have cannot better tell these stories, they are better reporters than telling human interest stories. He created the Salone Messenger platform and brought together passionate storytellers to be able to tell these compelling stories.

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