A live performance of horns welcomes the kid of the nation: Francis Ngannou, world heavyweight champion of combined martial arts (MMA), made a triumphant return final weekend to his native village of Batié, within the west from Cameroon.
The colossus of 1.93 m for 113 kilos, nicknamed “The Predator“, defeated in Las Vegas on March 28 by KO the American Stipe Miocic, holder of the title, thus changing into the primary African to acquire this world consecration in probably the most prestigious of leagues, the American Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Standing at the back of a pick-up, Francis Ngannou, smile on his face and golden champion’s belt in entrance of him, greets the supporters of his small city who’ve come to cheer him on.
While the interminable convoy of autos accompanying the 34-year-old champion crosses the primary axis serving this city of about 20,000 folks, a myriad of kids, girls and outdated folks depart as the procession advances.
On the esplanade of the inspiration created by Francis Ngannou in Batié to oversee younger athletes, practically 2,000 folks took their seats for a welcoming ceremony.
The world champion, admirer of Mike Tyson, speaks in a calm and calm voice. Far from the picture of the “Predator” on the rings, he who devotes himself to an excessive fight sport which permits kicks, punches, knees, elbows and passages on the bottom.
“Here is the belt,” he says in ghomala, a language in western Cameroon, in entrance of a jubilant crowd. “This belt is very beautiful, but it is only a piece of metal. For me, the most important thing is what it conveys, it represents faith and determination”, continues Mr. Ngannou.
I’m so moved, completely satisfied, proud to have a large brother who’s world champion and who’s the pleasure of Cameroon
“Ngannou Champion”, we learn on a signal carried, in the midst of the gang, by a younger fan, Armand Teguia, who left Yaoundé, the capital, practically 300 km away, to have fun the one he considers a ” model”.
“I am so moved, happy, proud to have a big brother who is world champion and who is the pride of Cameroon,” he enthuses. “It gives me hope, the desire to work. It’s the best, there are not two,” he continues.
Francis Ngannou, born in 1986, spent his childhood in Batié. He deserted his research at school and went on odd jobs to outlive, working successively in a sand quarry or as a bike taxi driver.
I’m not a legend. I’m simply a village child who believed in his desires
He later found fight sports activities. But the shortage of prospects in Cameroon pushes him into exile. In 2013, he arrived clandestinely in France, the place he slept for a whereas on the street in Paris earlier than assembly those that allowed him to pursue his profession within the martial arts.
“I’m not a legend. I’m just a village kid who believed in his dreams,” he says. “What I remember from my career is that it’s possible as long as you believe in it, it’s possible as long as you hang on,” he says.
“When he was very little, I already perceived in him a lot of determination. I understood that he had a very specific goal to achieve in life, but he had never revealed it to anyone”, testifies Ferdinand Kamga, who rubbed shoulders with the “predator” when he labored within the sand quarry.
He opens a multisport middle
In 2019, Francis Ngannou opened a multisport middle in his village to coach younger folks in martial arts.
Eight-time English champion of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Sam Michael Crook moved to Batié in 2019 to oversee younger folks from the middle of Ngannou. Several dozen younger folks prepare there. “Everything is free,” stated the Briton.
“This is a first center. We have planned a second room in Buea in the Southwest region, but we will not stop there,” guarantees Francis Ngannou.
“The project is huge and aims to cover the entire national territory with (…) opportunities given to young people to be able to train in sports and to promote their personal development; which will allow children to believe in their dreams” , he says.
“Francis picked me up in the street to put me where I am now. I had nothing to eat. Today, I have a good framework to train at any time”, testifies Desmond Tamungang, champion of the 28-year-old MMA Cameroon.
He is because of take part within the African MMA Championship in mid-May, with the intention of getting the identical monitor file as his mentor.
“I’m working hard for this title of world champion to stay here. Nothing will prevent me from having this belt. I want to have more than Francis Ngannou”, he ambitions. In Batié, he’s not the one one to cherish this dream.