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Did Francis Ngannou work in a sand mine before his MMA career took off?

UFC 220: Miocic v Ngannou
UFC 220: Miocic v Ngannou
Sayan Nag
Modified 24 Mar 2021

Francis Ngannou used to work in the sand mines of Cameroon as a child. The UFC heavyweight fighter took to the back-breaking work at the age of ten to make ends meet.

Francis Ngannou shared intimate details of his early life via Instagram during a visit to his home country. Sharing footage of himself working in the African mines, he wrote:

I may be a top ufc heavyweight, but when I go home to my village, every time I always stop to the sandmine to work with my friends like when we were growing up. Today, it's enjoyable and fun to do, but as a kid forced to do it, it was a stone on my throat. But we had to do it since that was our only choice to have the minimum things necessary to survive.

Francis Ngannou opened up to Joe Rogan

In a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience ahead of his rematch against Stipe Miocic at UFC 260, Francis Ngannou went on to further shed light on his tough childhood. When asked about his days working in the sand mines, Francis Ngannou said:

"I was about 10 years old when I started that because I was in the village where I grew up. After leaving my Aunt’s house, I went to my grandma and we had to do something. We had to work to contribute at home to buy oil, to buy food and also for our scholarship, for our books. You have to work, even though that work was meant for adults, but we didn’t have any option so we take what we had at the time."

Speaking about the frustrations of a poverty stricken childhood, Francis Ngannou further said:

"I didn’t like my life, and I anyways felt like I missed my childhood… I had to work by that age and it wasn’t enough. When school starts I gonna go to school and most of the time still didn’t have a pen to take notes or a notebook to write on it. Sometimes no shoes or clothes, my uniform was tear all over and I was frustrated to look around and see other kids looking good…You work sometimes and they don’t pay you right away. It’s maybe after months and sometimes they’ll just kick you out of the school."
Published 24 Mar 2021, 22:22 IST
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