Although Francis Ngannou’s ascent to the top of combat sports is well known, many people are still unaware of the difficulties he faced on his path to become a world champion.
In a recent appearance on the Club Shay Shay YouTube channel podcast, Francis Ngannou was accompanied by host Shannon Sharpe. The two talked about the hardships Ngannou faced, including his illegal immigration to Paris.
Francis Ngannou described his harrowing voyage, calling his first attempt at escape “really bad.” He informed Sharpe that the first unsuccessful effort left him with “deep scars” on his body.
Reflecting on his relentless pursuit for a better life, Ngannou disclosed: “I failed [to escape] six times. I went to the gate three times and it didn’t work. The first time I got really, really cut by the barbed wire… I still [have] some deep scars on me that remind me… I finally succeeded the seventh time, and it was one year exactly from the day that I left Cameroon.”
Ngannou described his 14-month journey to find his way to France in search of a better life, which began when he left Cameroon. The future UFC champion would train in mixed martial arts with Fernand Lopez in Paris.
Francis Ngannou said on the podcast that he is originally from Batié, Cameroon. His transition to life in Paris was marked by adversity. Despite seeking better opportunities, Ngannou found himself home and isolated.
The young Ngannou’s fortune turned when he stumbled upon a boxing gym, offering him an opportunity to train for free. However, fate truly smiled upon him when he crossed paths with Fernand Lopez and the MMA Factory team. He was introduced to the sport where he’d eventually carve his name in history.
Emerging from a background of toiling as a sand mine laborer coupled with scant formal education, Ngannou’s narrative stands as a testament to his resilience and determination.