This MMA star and family man lives with lions, crocodiles and SHARKS at home

MMA icon Karlos Vemola isn’t just a combatant; he’s an animal enthusiast who pets tigers, lions, and even crocodiles.

Despite having competed 43 times, Vemola is more well-known for his strange pet collection than for his skills in the cage. On Friday night, he will compete against Samuel Kristofic at OKTAGON 51 in Prague. The father of four drew inspiration from boxing legend Mike Tyson, kickstarting his collection with tigers and later embracing the eccentricity of owning crocodiles.

He said: “The first one I rescued and it went from there because lions breed a lot. There are not many spaces for the lions, so she came to my house. I provided her with a home and got her a little mate to make sure she wouldn’t be lonely. Then I saw Mike Tyson, with the white tiger. So I thought, ‘I wanna have a white tiger too’, and I got myself a white tiger.”

“Don’t ask me how I got the crocodiles because that was just crazy. When I was a kid, I couldn’t have animals. My parents were strict, and I couldn’t even have a hamster. So when I grew up, I thought, ‘When I was young, I couldn’t have it, but now I can.’ Once I was with my ex-partner and my son at the zoo, and my son saw a crocodile. He said, ‘Dad, can we get a crocodile?”

“She goes. ‘Of course not. Are you crazy’? I said, ‘No, he’s not. Listen, if my son wants a crocodile, he will have a crocodile’. Within two weeks, I had a four-meter crocodile swimming in my living room. I’ve got all the big animals, so the next step might have to be an elephant.”

With a 36-7 MMA record, Vemola quipped that he is terrified of his wife Lela more than any of his strange pets. He said: “The scariest thing in my house has to be my wife. The animals are great. I believe you get from them what you give to them. If you behave badly with them, you will have bad animals. I have lions and tigers, and you’d think they eat me alive, but they’re good.”

After winning via a spectacular knockout in seven seconds in October, the Czech boxer treated himself to a new pet eagle. Vemola had been with the UFC for three years. He is the first combatant from the Czech Republic to compete in the UFC, having gone 2-4 overall. The 38-year-old was a bodybuilder in the past and even had a role in the British movie ‘Killer B****’.