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How UFC star Kamaru Usman became welterweight champ fuelled by the injustice of his dad’s 15-year imprisonment for fraud

WHEN Kamaru Usman makes his way to the octagon at UFC 251, he will likely be cheered on by inmates watching at the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville, Texas.

The 33-year-old MMA star has roared to 11 straight victories in the championship without defeat, picking up the welterweight belt in the process.

But, if you scratch the surface of that winning streak, you'll uncover a heartbreak that fuelled his desire to become the best.

In 2010, Usman's father was sentenced to 15 years at the Seagoville prison - a sentence that he feels was unjust.

It meant that his dad, who is now out of jail, missed his son's meteoric rise. This is Usman's story.

THE AMERICAN DREAM

Born in Nigeria, which explains his nickname 'The Nigerian Nightmare', Usman came from humble beginnings.

His family home in Auchi had no plumbing, to get water they had to walk to a well and electricity was unreliable.

When he was eight, the Usmans emigrated to the US and settled in Arlington, Texas.

In the early noughties, dad Muhammad appeared to be living the American dream.

He had founded two ambulance companies, Royal Ambulance in 2003 and First Choice EMS in 2005 - that earned the entrepreneur the Republican National Committee's 'Who's Who Businessman of the Year.'

The ambulances were used for transporting dialysis patients to infusions, as well as other non-emergency procedures.

Every time an ambulance was used, the journey would be logged on a 'run sheet' and Usman was reimbursed by the medical billing company.

THE NIGERIAN NIGHTMARE

Things took a turn for the worse when Muhammad was accused of creating fraudulent run sheets by several medical companies.

Prior to his life in the States, Usman Sr had very little experience in business in his homeland.

So he employed Josie Horn, David McNac (Horn’s brother), and Shaun Outen to run the business for him.

He had fingers in other pies, including a car export business, a healthcare facility for handicapped children, and he regularly returned to Nigeria.

In 2009, a SWAT team raided Muhammad's home and arrested him on suspicion of multiple crimes.

McNac and Outen were sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud, but Usman Sr pleaded his innocence and gambled on a trial to clear his name.

However, in 2010 he was found guilty by a jury of healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, aiding and abetting and money laundering.

He was slapped with a 15-year sentence, which Kamaru opened up about on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

"My dad is so proud of me and I'm so proud of him I mean he raised us so well," he said.

"When he knows, 'I didn't do anything wrong because I chose to say no I didn't do anything wrong I'm not going to take this sentence you give me' they said, 'OK fine then you'll sit in there for 15 years and there's nothing you can do about it'"

"It broke my heart man and then when I think about it I just hold it in. I try not to cry about it."

'MARTY'

Before Usman's father was incarcerated, he was an athletic kid at Bowie High School who looked destined for a career in wrestling.

He took up the ancient sport when he was 15 and was called 'Marty' by his coach, who couldn't pronounce his full name,  Kamarudeen. It was a name that would stick with him through his amateur wrestling career.

His high-school wrestling record defied belief - 53 wins and just three losses. It earned him recognition at national level, where he wrestled alongside current UFC star Jon Jones before heading to college.

At William Penn University in Iowa he was an NAIA national qualifier in 2007.

He transferred to University of Nebraska at Kearney a year later and helped the school win its first-ever team title.

There, he became national champion at 174 lbs in 2010 - the same year his father was sentenced.

A NEW CAREER

Wanting to take his fighting skills to a new level, Usman made his professional MMA debut in 2012 and quickly established a 5-1 record.

In 2015 he was invited to season 21 of the Ultimate Fighter - a reality show set up by the UFC that opens up the door to future talent.

Usman won two fights and was selected for the finale against American Top Team’s Hayder Hassan.

He secured the win with an arm-triangle choke, forcing his opponent into submission and earned a place in the UFC.

Since that victory, Usman has swept all before him.

He won the UFC welterweight title defeating Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 in 2019, and defended the belt against Colby Covington.

The next scalp he's looking for is Masvidal's. You can bet he will try to win for his dad's honour.

Inside the glitzy UFC 251 'Fight Island' arena which has been purpose built to host Jorge Masvidal vs Kamaru Usman

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