Kamaru Usman, despite reaching the pinnacle of MMA during his welterweight title run, comes from humble beginnings. His father, Muhammed Nasiru Usman, was a major in the Nigerian army while Kamaru was a young child. However, the entire family moved to the United States of America when the Nigerian Nightmare was only 8.
Despite his father, Muhammed, being in the Nigerian military, Usman and his family lived in squalor in the Auchi village. Kamaru detailed his harsh upbringing in an interview on the Channels TV program, Gist Nigeria. He said, “We grew up in the village. We farmed. As a small boy, farm boy, I used to hawk Akpu, put hot Akpu on my head. I came from nothing.”
In order to escape their pitiful living conditions, Muhammed Usman moved his family to the US where he planned to study pharmacology. Although he planned on returning to Nigeria after finishing his studies, things began to pick up for the Usmans after they reached the States. Mohammed’s pharmaceutical career took off while Kamaru found his calling as a high school wrestler, donning the moniker of “Marty”.
Kamaru would go on to amass a 53-3 record, securing third place at the Texas State Championship, even wrestling alongside Jon Jones in a few competitions. He would also become an NCAA Division national champion after he transferred to the University of Nebraska from William Penn University. However, these good times for the Usman family were short-lived after Kamaru’s father was arrested while the Nigerian Nightmare was still in college.
Why was Muhammed Usman, the father of Kamaru Usman, imprisoned?
In the summer of 2009, while Kamaru was at the University of Nebraska, a SWAT team assembled in front of his house. Usman’s mother, Afishetu P. Usman, recalled a member of the SWAT team pulling Kamaru’s younger brother, Mohammed, away from the doorway. They were there for Kamaru’s father, Muhammed Nasiru Usman.
They arrested Mohammed on multiple counts of healthcare fraud after an ambulance company under his ownership willfully submitted falsified claims. And in May 2010, Usman was convicted on 14 federal charges. So, 11 months after his initial arrest, Mohammed received a 15-year prison sentence also paying $1.3 million in restitution. Kamaru Usman first addressed his father’s incarceration on the JRE MMA Show.
Despite his incarceration, Muhammed watched every one of Kamaru’s fights on cable TV in prison. In fact, Kamaru asked the UFC to not book him on any PPVs unless a title was involved so that his father could watch his fights. And after serving nearly 10 years of his sentence, the Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution finally released Muhammed Usman on March 16, 2021.
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