Every UFC athlete has a unique path from their childhood to their professional fighting career. Some are more mundane than others, but Kamaru Usman‘s is far from it. Growing up in Nigeria, Usman had to walk miles every day just to fetch clean water and bring it back to his village. Usman spent eight years of his life in Nigeria, and it molded him into the man and UFC champion he is today.
Kamaru Usman grew up in a town in Nigeria with no running water
Most children in America spend their childhood years going to school and playing with friends without a care in the world. In Nigeria, that isn’t the case. While American children have to worry about their ABC’s, Nigerian children are worried about where their next meal is coming from. Usman’s childhood is a tale of survival.
When he was just five years old, he walked miles a day with his grandmother to fetch clean water for his village in Auchi, Nigeria. He also went years without seeing his father, who was in the United States trying to work to bring his family over.
“I remember a lot of the things that you have to do to survive,” Usman told BT Sports. “I remember all of it, I just remember hustling, my mom hustling and trying to pour into us at the same time.”
Usman and his family left Nigeria for the United States when he was eight years old.
Usman overcame childhood adversity to become a UFC champion
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Everything Usman experienced as a child in Nigeria molded him into the man he is today. It made him tougher. It taught him how to deal with adversity. His childhood, although unique, made it possible for Usman to become a UFC champion.
“Growing up you don’t really realize what this is doing for you and how this is molding you until I got to the point now,” Usman said. “I’m able to look back and I’m like, ‘wow.’ I think so differently because of these experiences.”
After moving to America at eight years old, Usman immediately became the odd one out in school. It took him a while to feel at home in the U.S., but he found a niche in fighting.
Usman started wrestling in high school and was a natural right away. He went on to wrestle in college at William Penn and Nebraska before turning pro in 2012. Since joining the UFC, Usman has a 16-1 record and currently holds the welterweight title belt.
He’ll put that belt on the line this Saturday at UFC 251.
Kamaru Usman will defend his title against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 251
Kamaru Usman first won the welterweight title belt in 2019 with a win against Tyron Woodley. He defended his title against Colby Covington later that year, and he has another chance to do so Saturday night.
Usman will face off against Jorge Masvidal in the main event at UFC 251. He stands as a -245 favorite to defend his title.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” has lived up to his nickname so far, and his childhood is a big reason why.
All stats courtesy of UFC