Francis Ngannou is a remarkable individual. He is currently the heavyweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and is ranked as having the hardest punch in the world. Francis Ngannou was born in the village of Batié (Cameroon), and grew up with very little: no home, no formal education, and no support. What he lacked in support, he made up for with his enormous dreams. He eluded the demands of local gangs, began working in salt mines as a child, and set his sights on a life outside of the town that was determined to retain him. Francis began boxing training at 22, and at the age of 26 took an arduous journey to France to pursue his professional career. Upon reaching Europe, he was jailed for two months in Spain for illegally crossing the border. When he reached Paris, with no money, friends, or home, he became homeless. Francis met fighter Francis Carmot who introduced him to trainer Fernand Lopez and MMA Factory. Lopez gave Ngannou some MMA gear, allowed him to train and sleep at the gym, and with that his career began. Today, alongside his fighting success, Francis operates a foundation in his name which extends his providence to his hometown. In this interview, I speak to Francis Ngannou, heavyweight champion of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). We discuss the power of combat sports, the reality of pain, of resilience, of failure and success.
A Conversation with Francis Ngannou, Heavyweight Champion of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship)