Francis Ngannou is the champ you need
Francis Ngannou is the champion the UFC needs. In fact, he is the champion America needs.
But if you live in Donald Trump’s America, his story would not happen.
Ngannou, a native of Cameroon, would be considered to be from one of those “Shithole” African countries that the President referred to in that infamous meeting on immigration. Long story short, if you are from one of these countries, the President sees no use for you in America.
Ngannou understands what was said and articulated his feelings about it at UFC media day leading up to his big fight Saturday. When asked, he stated the President is “a shame for America.”
It’s not lost on the Heavyweight that the President has a certain feeling toward countries like his native Cameroon. Unlike some cautious with the media, Ngannou was not afraid to speak out.
As a result, he was castigated on social media by many Trump supporters, Republicans and conservatives that comprise the MMA fan base. Let’s face it, for a sport that may feature two half-naked guys interlocked in the missionary position, this is one of the most racist, sexist and homophobic fan bases out there. It’s quick to jump on anyone that may infer racism. Look at the backlash from Tyron Woodley when he inserted race into MMA talk.
With a win against Stipe Miocic on Saturday night, the 31-year-old undefeated UFC heavyweight contender can gain the title in only his 7th fight for the UFC.
He is living the American dream. He grew up in poverty in Cameroon. He turned away from local gangs looking for a way out through boxing. With absolutely nothing, he emigrated to Paris hoping for a future. He was homeless and slept on the streets. Ngannou was given a chance to fulfill a vague dream in combat sports. Due to his size and strength he trained for free and learned the sport of mixed martial arts.
Ngannou’s ascension from aspiring boxer to UFC heavyweight title contender happened in a short span of time. With only a dream to succeed, Ngannou left his family for a country where he had no prospects. And that country gave him a chance by allowing him to come. Now here he is with a possibility to be heavyweight champion and the accolades and riches that come with the moniker.
The UFC is bullish on Ngannou’s future as well. He now lives in Las Vegas, the home of the biggest MMA promotion in the world, and trains at the state of the art UFC Performance Institute. He drives a BMW and is flying First Class.
The juxtaposition with Ngannou’s personal views on the President is that his boss is friend’s with Trump. Dana White spoke at the GOP convention in 2016 and proclaims to be friends with the President as he gave the upstart UFC support. For his part, White has not spoke against Ngannou for his comments and, in fact, gave an impartial response.
White does not see black or white, just green. White is a businessman and caters to many personalities. Brokering a bout with Conor McGregor, with no boxing record and boxing’s best, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. last year was remarkable. White sees Ngannou as a valuable asset regardless of what he thinks of the President. He probably understands similarly situated that if someone had referred to his native Boston as a shithole, he too would be upset.
The overarching theme that an individual with nothing, was able to go to a country to better himself is something that the United States was founded on. Its something that the current administration lost in its translation of what American means. It was built on the backs of hard-working immigrants that were given a chance to succeed. If Ngannou was not provided access to Paris, would he have made it to this point in his life?
Regardless of what you may think of how brutal and punishing MMA may be, there are people in the sport like Francis Ngannou who saw it as one of the only ways out of poverty.
His success, in part, was due to immigration and the ability to make something out of nothing.