Francis Ngannou, the current UFC Heavyweight Champion, has had an unexpected ascent to the top.
However, he has a simple explanation for how he was able to rise from an impoverished upbringing working in a sand quarry in Cameroon to the top of the Mixed Martial Arts world.
“When you get to the point where you’re not terrified of losing,” he says, “you’ve become a winner.”
Ngannou’s tale is one of unwavering perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Josh Ellis discusses the successes and trials of a life spent pursuing his dream of being a world-class boxer in an exclusive interview with Achievers.
He attributes his achievement to never losing sight of his goal. Reflecting on schoolyard battles as a teenager taught him to recognize that he was just as deserved as everyone else. A strategy was implemented, one that would result in a precarious living situation on the streets of Paris for a short time. He was eventually taken under the wing of mentors, who persuaded him to switch from boxing to MMA.
That opportunity was all Ngannou required.
“I’ve made it because of where I am in my attitude, not because of what I have,” he says.
Francis Ngannou’s discussion with SUCCESS yielded five essential lessons.
His Lowly Roots Sparked An Interest in Him.
Ngannou claims he had trouble connecting with his peers because he lacked school supplies, traveled about living with different family members, and had to work from an early age to support himself.
These early contacts, he believes, fueled the fires of a drive to prove his worth to others. He recalls seeing a different future when all of his needs were supplied since he was a child.
“I made the decision that I was going to prove them all incorrect by my actions and by accomplishing something,” Ngannou adds.
Realizing that, while he couldn’t control the hand he was dealt in life, he could control how hard he worked to achieve his goals was a significant aspect of his personal development. Ultimately, these experiences shaped his will to succeed, which may have made all the difference.
“I now believe that I would not be here if it hadn’t been for that childhood, for that life,” he continues. “Everything worked together to get me to this point.”
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He Took Huge Risks in Order to Reap Great Rewards.
Ngannou’s journey to success was far from smooth. He was detained and imprisoned by Spanish immigration authorities after fleeing his native Cameroon for Europe.
He even ended up living on the streets when he first arrived in Paris. His internal urge to achieve a major, long-term change in his life, as he sees it, was what kept him going.
“Sometimes you have feelings you can’t express; you’re upset about your own life,” Ngannou explains. “In order to expect a change, you must do something, you must take action; you must be brave.” The dream takes precedence over everything else in your life.”
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He Received Valuable Assistance From Mentors.
Ngannou was fortunate in that he didn’t have to do anything on his own. He was able to acquire entrance to a gym through personal contacts.
It wasn’t until he met some influential mentors, such as trainer and coach Fernand Lopez, that he contemplated MMA over his first sport of choice, boxing.
He eventually earned his big break with the UFC in 2015 after fighting in France. The experience of his first big bout in the United States acted as an inflection point for him as a boy who had dreamed of seeing America. He believed he had finally made it.
“I didn’t make it in the United States as I did in France, by the service door.” “I got here through the front door,” Ngannou explains.
He didn’t let the taste of accomplishment deter him from focusing on his future—and pursuing new objectives.
He explains, “There is no true finish line; it’s just one step after another.” “Everything I’ve done is good, but it doesn’t matter because I’ve already accomplished it.”
He Still Wishes to Develop.
He had to dig deep to restart his career after losing to heavyweight superstar Stipe Miocic in 2018. When he won his title this year, he beat Miocic in the process, bringing everything full circle.
On defeating his UFC opponent, he said, “I felt like I beat all the difficulties that I faced in my life.”
Even so, he believes he has the opportunity to improve both inside and beyond the octagon.
Ngannou says, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the process, it’s that I’m capable of a lot.”
He’s All About Giving Back.
Ngannou’s organization not only provides much-needed goods to children in his native country, but it also aims to build a community where they can pursue their own goals.
“All I want to do is make them feel valuable—to make them feel like someone cares about them.” They can then pick up their own dream and believe in it,” he says.
“It’s only a matter of time before you succeed.”