Francis Ngannou of Cameroon reacts after his victory over Stipe Miocic in their UFC heavyweight championship fight. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports via Reuters
Francis Ngannou of Cameroon reacts after his victory over Stipe Miocic in their UFC heavyweight championship fight. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Francis Ngannou has had one arduous journey to become a UFC champion

By African News Agency Time of article published Apr 1, 2021

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CAPE TOWN – Africa has a new king, and it’s the newly crowned Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) of the world, Francis Ngannou.

According to UFC, the man some christened as a champion in waiting early in his UFC career, Ngannou, 34, who hails from Cameroon, journey to the top wasn’t an easy one. He is the first African-born UFC heavyweight champion

On March 27 he showcased his devastating punch-power, landing a ferocious left hook to knock out Stipe Miocic in the second round to capture the undisputed UFC heavyweight title in Las Vegas at UFC 260, a mixed martial arts event produced by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

So who is the man behind the title?

African News Agency takes a look at the humble beginnings of Ngannou and how he went from being a refugee to becoming a UFC heavyweight champion.

According to the website SportBible.com, Ngannou grew up in the small town of Batie in Cameroon in extremely impoverished circumstances, often going hungry as a child.

He was raised by his single mother and then again with his aunt.

According to reports, he often had to rummage through bins and fight off rats for food.

According to local and international media reports, he started working in a sand quarry at the age of 12, and then, in his mid-20s, embarked on a long and life-threatening journey from Cameroon to France, a trip he has described as “hell”.

Ngannou crossed the Sahara Desert and spent a year in Morocco before entering Spain through the Mediterranean Sea, writes news broadcaster Al Jazeera.

When he reached Spain, he was detained for entering the country irregularly and spent two months in custody before regaining his freedom and finally making it to France.

According to reports, he was homeless in Paris, until he found a fitness centre to sleep and start training.

He was convinced by a former coach to switch focus to mixed martial arts and eventually earned his chance in the UFC, writes BBC.

After winning the title, he tweeted: “Finally got a hold of the belt & this is going to be for a while”

“This right here is more than a belt, but a symbol of hope and dedication, it shows how far you can go if you believe in you and doesn't matter how far behind you are, doesn't matter how many many obstacles you meet along the road (and believe me they can be countless), you can overcome them and reach your goal because the only limit that you have is YOU and nothing else I want to thank you (fans, family, etc...) all from the bottom of my heart for helping me carry on this dream even when I feel exhausted, for motivating me when I feel tired and to push me when I'm stuck. We're all tied in this together.

Ngannou’s victory means that Africa now has three UFC world champions.

According to the Black Wall Times.com website the other two world champions are Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya.

They hold the belts in the Welterweight and Middleweight divisions respectively. Both Usman and Adesanya hail from Nigeria.

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