Francis Ngannou: Celebrating Black Excellence In Martial Arts

by Duke Magazine

Cameroonian-French mixed martial artist Francis Ngannou, aka The Predator, stands tall as the Reigning UFC Heavyweight Champion.

The 6 ft 4 tall MMA fighter who currently competes in the Heavyweight division for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), bagging the reigning UFC Heavyweight Champion title, armed with determination has applaudably rewritten the script of his life from underprivileged to successful living a life of purpose ever inspired to impact his world. 

‘I want to give some opportunity for children like me who dream of this sport and don’t have an opportunity like me.”

Rising from humble beginnings;

Ngannou had it tough; born and raised in Batié village, Cameroon, he lived in poverty and had little formal education. At age six when his parents divorced he was sent to live with his aunt. Pushed on a quest to survive right from an early age of ten, Ngannou started working in a sand quarry in Batié but he maintained a positive outlook and remained focused, along the line he discovered his passion and began to pursue boxing.

At the age of 22, Ngannou began honing his skills in the craft, despite the initial reluctance of his family, but the journey wasn’t all smooth as just after training for a year, he fell ill and had to put his health first. So instead he took on various odd jobs to make ends meet. This went on till age of 26, when he decided it was time and headed straight for Paris, France, to pursue professional boxing. But once again, he encountered a road block, but thankfully along the linw luck came singing while living homeless on the streets of Paris, he was introduced by a friend to Fernand Lopez and the MMA factory, he took up from there. Although Ngannou originally started out with intention of going into boxing but Lopez saw further and convinced him to try MMA instead, thus that was the official beginning of his MMA career.

Known for being the hardest recorded puncher in UFC history, Ngannou started his MMA career in November 2013, fighting in mostly in the French promotion 100% FIGHT, as well as other regional promotions in Europe. Reports have it he compiled a record of 5–1 before signing with the UFC.

Ngannou made his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut against fellow newcomer Luis Henrique on 19 December 2015 at UFC, emerging victorious. As of 29 March 2021, the Cameroonian-French mixed martial artist was the #5 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.

In the highest profile fight of his career, Ngannou faced veteran Alistair Overeem on 2 December 2017 at UFC 218, winning the fight via knockout in the first round.

In efforts towards philanthropy in order to give back to society and equip young folks with facilities to train and feel loved, the Francis Ngannou Foundation runs the first MMA gym in Cameroon. Amongst his accomplishments is World MMA Awards was 2017 Knockout of the Year vs. Alistair Overeem.

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