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How My Daughter Changed My World — Kamaru Usman - Sports - Nairaland

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Kamaru Usman Knocks Out Jorge Masvidal, Retains UFC Title (Photos, Video) / Kamaru Usman and Isreal Adesanya take pictures with their UFC belts / Kamaru Usman Defeats Tyron Woodley, Becomes First African-born UFC Champion (2) (3) (4)

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How My Daughter Changed My World — Kamaru Usman by OluwaGoverment(m): 3:38am On Jun 11
Kamaru Usman, the Ultimate Fighting Championship Welterweight Champion tells TOFARATI IGE about his career, family and other issues

You once recalled how you used to hawk fufu (cassava dough) back in Auchi, Edo State. How did that experience mould you into the man you are today?

I always believe that when one is faced with hardship and sees poverty daily, one begins to feel a certain kind of resolve to the point that one’s only goal would be to get out of that situation and become somebody great. It certainly made me stronger and gave me the belief that one can accomplish anything once one puts one’s mind to it.

What were some of the lessons you picked from your time hawking on the streets that have helped you and are still helping you?

I learnt not to take anything for granted. One remains focused on one’s goals and one never looks back.

What is the story behind your nickname, ‘Nigerian Nightmare’?

I felt it symbolised the elite Nigerian athletes. There are others who have used the name the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ but the person who was widely known for it was Christian Okoye— a running back for Kansas City Chiefs (an American football team) in the United States of America. Christian used it because all his opponents were extremely scared of playing against him as he had a very terrifying running style. That was actually what brought about the name, as he was a nightmare on the field. When I decided that I wanted to use the name too, I reached out to Christian because he was the one who had the trademark. After discussing with him, he agreed and I have been using it ever since. When I was fighting for my title, I invited some of the other great Nigerian athletes who had also used the nickname to my fight and it was great. I won and we took pictures.

You immigrated to the United States of America at the age of eight. How was the transition for you?

There was excitement. There was also the feeling of not knowing what to expect as one was going somewhere one had never been to before. When one makes that move, one does not look back, as one has to be committed to making it work. With family, things are easier. However, the journey is not like that for everyone.

With over two decades outside Nigeria, do you feel disconnected from your Nigerian heritage?

No, not at all. The Nigerian community in the Diaspora is extremely strong, supportive and up-to-date with information about Nigeria. We have Nigerian organisations and restaurants (in Diaspora). We also have our immediate families with us. Everyone stays up to date with the culture, norms and happenings in and out of Nigeria.

You have not lost your Nigerian accent. How have you managed to keep it after two decades in the US?

We only spoke pidgin English at home. And, we still stay in touch and interact with family members and friends back at home, while also being very immersed in the Nigerian community in Texas, USA.

Do you feel pressured when heading into any fight knowing you might lose your unbeaten record?

I lost once and since then, that pressure and feeling is not something I carry into any fight. I only go with the desire to come out victorious. When I tasted defeat, I promised myself not to let it happen to me again.

How does it feel being the UFC Welterweight Champion?

It feels great to be the champion. It solidifies all the hard work I have put in over the years. When I first started mixed martial arts, my goal was to be the champion and to acquire that title meant everything to me. I feel like I have a responsibility to let others know that if one works hard, believe in one’s dreams and don’t let one’s current circumstances define one’s future, everything can always change. One can achieve whatever one wants, as long as one is persistent and willing to work every single day for it.

How was the reception in the UFC when you started identifying with your Nigerian roots?

I guess it took a while for the audience to truly know me and where I was coming from but as I began to dominate and win, they knew all about me.

How does it feel knowing you go into every fight having Nigeria as a country and Africa as a continent rooting for you?

It is an amazing feeling because I am not only doing this for myself but for others to follow. Nigeria, as you always see, is represented in everything I do. I am always proud to carry that flag. For Africa, it is to celebrate me and others like Francis Ngannou (Cameroonian-French UFC Heavyweight Champion) and Israel Adesanya (Nigeria-New Zealander UFC Middleweight Champion).

How do you balance the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ in the octagon (fighting arena) and Kamaru Usman, the family man?

They are both the same characters with the same energy in the cage and out of the cage. It is just that one is fiercer than the other, and I’m sure my fans know which one that is.

Who has had the biggest impact on your career so far?

That would be my daughter. She came into my world and changed everything.

How would you describe your relationship with your daughter?

My daughter means the world to me. I once said at a press conference that my daughter was the turning point in my career. When I had her, that was when something clicked and I said to myself that I needed to be the best. Simply put, my daughter lit a fire under me. She is my light. I also want to help her to be the best woman she can be. I want to guide her and hope that she can learn from my journey and always believe that she can achieve anything. I love spending time with her. We have daddy-daughter dates. It is important for me to be present in her life. I want her to remember my significant presence in every stage of her life.

Is she aware of your job?

Yes, of course (laughs). She watches me train, she comes to my fights and we talk about it regularly. I don’t keep anything from her.

The hearts of many Nigerian women were broken when you got married to a Brazilian woman. Did you intentionally set out not to marry a Nigerian?

Not at all. One cannot help who one falls for. Being Nigerian does not mean one has to fall for a Nigerian. One falls for the person that understands one and that one has chemistry with.

What is your advice to Nigerians trying to make it in the UFC?

I would tell them to work hard, be disciplined and have goals— small goals to try and reach the big goals. They should also be humble and reach out to people for help and advice. They should reach out to people who have done it like myself, Francis Ngannou and others.

What’s next for you?

I intend to maintain my legacy and keep on inspiring others. Fighting is my profession but I want to give back in a way that will allow others to make something out of themselves.

What were your childhood ambitions?

My childhood ambition was to be the best I could be in anything I chose to do. I have spoken about the hardship I faced in Nigeria, so moving to the US gave me the opportunity for a second chance in life. I took it and did not look back.

Copyright PUNCH.

Re: How My Daughter Changed My World — Kamaru Usman by Kingpee2(m): 3:51am On Jun 11
Everyone has a story to tell ...
Re: How My Daughter Changed My World — Kamaru Usman by ecclize: 4:54am On Jun 11
its all grace...
from hawking fufu to a world champion not the kinda story we hear everyday...
am happy for the lad
Re: How My Daughter Changed My World — Kamaru Usman by decatalyst(m): 6:18am On Jun 11
Very decent interview.

No bragging or regrets.

More wins for you champ!

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