Manuwa led a troubled existence in his earlier years, as his youth was spent being expelled from school, getting into vicious fights so many times he was barred from Croydon nightclubs and being imprisoned for his role in a burglary ring. But the 31-year-old now insists he is a reformed character and is keen to get wayward youngsters off the street and into his MMA classes, where they can “learn discipline and release energy”. Jimi, who moved to England from Nigeria when he was ten, says he has been frustrated and angry ever since he was young. He told the Advertiser: “You have a lot of energy and anger but you don’t know why and I think there are a lot of kids like that. “The people I hung around with were the same. They just wanted money and to have stuff but rather than work you just wanted it fast. I used to burgle from commercial properties, taking computers and stuff. I got into fights whenever I went out and I was banned from Croydon nightclubs. I feel bad for putting my family through that.”
Jimi was imprisoned in 2002 for conspiracy to burgle and released in 2003. On his exit from prison, Jimi saw his best friend cage fighting and decided he wanted to start training.
After winning his first few fights, 6ft and 205lb Jimi soon built up a reputation as a fierce competitor in cage fighting, winning a series of competitions. He now wants to train youngsters in the sport, which demands participants practice mixed martial arts and battle it out in the ring. He said: “People might think it’s violent but it’s a sport, like boxing. You get to release energy and take your frustration out and it takes a lot of discipline. I think kids will be able to relate to me as I’ve come from the same place they have. When I speak to them they listen.”
Jimi says he has been inspired to give young people something he was lacking when they were his age. He added: “If I’d been given this chance when I was younger I know I would have taken it, because I think a lot of young people don’t know what they want to do. It gives them something to aim for
HELLO JIMI AND THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SPEAK WITH THE DAWGPOUNDMMA NATION…
I’ve been the champ for 2 yrs now and had 4 defences. I’ve been fighting for 3 yrs with no former training in martial arts.
GIVE US YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE UCMMA LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT DIV..
The lhw division is ok. It was a lot busier when I was fighting to get the belt there was a lot more competition like Mike Edwards Ryan Robinson Jamie Hearne Jake Bostwick. All these were a lot more experienced than me.
WHEN WILL YOU BE DEFENDING YOUR UCMMA TITLE?
I will hopefully defending my belt by September when I get over my injury if all goes well. I have been working round my injury and still improving on other aspects of my training.
Nick is an ok fighter he looks strong etc but I don’t think he is ready for what I bring to the cage.
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU MATCH UP AGAINST NICK?
I am a true predator and an expert finisher. The best in the business and I don’t think anyone can beat me come fight night.
TELL US ABOUT WHERE AND WITH WHO YOU TRAIN…
with nova forca bjj and keddles gym Thai boxing
. I have various other places and instructors I train with in pro boxing
and wrestling strength and physios. My team is big and I will do whatever and train where and with who I need to to be the best.
HOW IS YOUR NEW GYM COMING ALONG?
The new gym is taking up all my time at the moment and will hopefully be open in 4 weeks. Lionspridemma. This is the start of something really big trust me.
TELL US ABOUT FIGHTERS THAT YOU LIKE TO WATCH AS A FAN OF THE SPORT..
I like to watch exciting fighters and ones I can learn off. My favourite Anderson Silva. Jose Aldo. Jon Jones. Cain Velasquez. Junior Dossantos. Just to name my top 5.
JON JONES? HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU WOULD DO IN A MATCH AGAINST JON?
Jon Jones is one of my favourite fighters. I am a fan of his but everyone is human. Everyone knows that. He is so good though. I’ve learnt a lot just watching him. He does things in the fight people only practice in the gym. That’s why he is so exciting to watch.
HAVE YOU BEEN CONTACTED BY STRIKEFORCE OR THE UFC YET?
My manager deals with my contracts but yes they have spoken about ufc.
ANY THOUGHTS ON THE PURCHASE OF STRIKEFORCE BY THE UFC? AS A FIGHTER GOOD OR BAD FOR THE SPORT?
The purchase of strikeforce I think is good because u can have one true champion of the world that’s what every fighter wants.
OK JIMI YOU MAY TAKE THIS TIME TO GIVE ANY SHOUTOUTS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE….
I would like to thank god my family my manager Wad Alameddine. HALOPR. My sponsors and all my supporters. Thanks.
THANK YOU AGAIN CHAMP FOR TALKING WITH US, DAWGPOUNDMMA WILL BE FOLLOWING YOUR CAREER, GOOD LUCK TO YOU MY FRIEND!!!