My son made me popular in prison – Kamaru Usman’s Dad, Muhammed
Muhammed Nasiru Usman is the father of the reigning UFC Welterweight Champion, Kamaru Usman, the ‘Nigerian Nightmare.’
Muhammed Usman, who became a pharmacist in the United States, brought his family into the country when Kamaru was eight years old, immigrating to Dallas, Texas.
Unfortunately in 2009, Muhammed Usman was arrested and after 11 months in May 2010, was charged with 14 federal cases resulting in a 180-month prison sentence along with fine of $1.3 million.
Kamaru’s father completed his sentence and was released from Federal Correctional Institution, Seagoville, Texas on March 16, 2021.
However, while in jail Muhammed reportedly made a lot of friends and was popular among the inmates as the minimum-security camp became a full-fledged cheering section, whenever his son is fighting.
“To roll back, while I was in prison, he made me so popular in prison. Anytime he wants to fight and they see him on TV, they will be the one telling me, “We saw your son on TV,” Muhammed revealed in an emotional interview during their family appearance on Steve Harvey’s “Steve on Watch Show.
Kamaru, who was seated beside his father during the interview, further explained that the reason behind his choice not to take a pay-per-view fight was to ensure his father and other inmates watch his fight on television in prison.
“After I went to visit him the first few times, I realized that in one of their visitation rooms,there were televisions there. They can watch and I can see one of the channels, Fox Sport One. Back then in UFC, it was mainly Fox Sport One. So I thought about it, even though I was not in the UFC yet. So I asked him if they watch the channel and he said yes. So whenever I get a call for fights from my manager, the first thing I’ll ask is “is it on Fox Sport One and if he told me no, I’ll tell him I don’t want the fight, I’m okay. Or is it on pay-per-view, I’ll say I don’t want the fight either. Because I want my father to be able to see my fights because that gives him part of me. Unfortunately he is unable to be there with me that will make him share the moment with me. The biggest part is the feedback that I get from him because he actually gets the opportunity to watch me. Not just him, but all his friends and everyone around him in that area watched me. That makes me feel more complete.”
About a month after his father was released on April 24th, Kamaru knocked out Jorge Masvida in the second round at UFC261 to retain his welterweight title in front of 15,000 fans in Florida. This is the first time his father would be watching him from the ringside and there was an emotional family moment after the fight. Kamaru was seen hanging his belt around his father’s waist in front of his family.
Speaking on how he felt sitting by the ring side to watch his son for the first time after being away for 11 years, Muhammad said, “The emissions alone were overwhelming. Sitting out there, watching my son was the greatest thing. That was actually the best day in my life.”
And for Kamaru, the biggest victory of the night was having his father with him inside the ring for the first time in his career.
“It was real for me because I’ve visualized it from the start. From when I’m in the back of the locker room till the end to when I’m back in the locker room after the fight. I tried to visualize it. , I tried to make it come alive as much as possible. So in my mind it was almost like I’ve been there before. So putting the belt around him I can’t really control it. It’s one of the moments that I considered as the pursuit of happiness.”
MUHAMMED’S GRACE TO GRASS STORY
Since moving to United States in 1989, 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 Muhammed was reimbursed by the medical billing company. Things took a turn for the worse when he was accused of creating fraudulent run sheets by several medical companies.
Prior to his life in the States, Muhammed 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 Muhammed pleaded his innocence and gambled on a trial to clear his name.
He said as an immigrant from Nigeria, he trusted the judicial system but he found out it doesn’t work like that. However, in 2010 he was found guilty by a jury of healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, aiding and abetting and money laundering.
Mohammad still maintains his innocence and faults the judicial system in the US. When asked what was going through his mind when the judge announced his sentence, Mohammad said, “It was like a dead-man walking. Because when he pronounced it like 180 months, I was asking what do you mean. 180 months, what is that? He said 15 years. I looked at the judge, looked at my family, there was not much I could do. Because they’ve got the handcuffs and everything and I was in a hurry and I said to myself, this is it.”
Kamaru noted that his father was offered plea bargaining but the old man was ready to prove his innocence.
“In 2009 we were battling the case back and forth for a while with his business that was shut down for a while, and after two years we told him we are going to start afresh. So everything was set down until we said it was okay. When that’s done, we move on.
“That time I was at Sophomore College and I was actually getting a plane back home. In college I don’t go home as much as I want to be a wrestler. I was trying to make sure that I made it to the top podium being national champion in college. I tried to stay in school during the summer so I can train and catch up. So while getting on the plane, I was actually going home to see them. But on my way and getting to the airport I received a call from my mum. She was very upset. I told her to calm down and tell me what was going on. She said “they came, they took him, they took him”. In my heart I was like what do I do? Should I get on this flight now or go back. I was really contemplating. So when I got home, that was when everything started. How do we begin to fight this case, how do we battle this situation? We did the best we could but things happen and that is life. We just had to roll with everything that happened.
“Yes, they offered him a plea deal. But talking to him and looking at the situation, it’s like “I’m not going to take three years of my life being away from my family because of something that I didn’t do. I’m not going to do that.” Of course that time we were thinking we are not going to do that too. We are going to fight it because the justice system is going to do what they are supposed to do. Not really looking at all the aspects of how the chips are stacked up against you. Of course he said we are going to do trials as so on and that is when you try to see the hard way, how the whole system is set up. So that didn’t go our way and he ended up being sentenced to 15 years. Of course everything going through our mind is, how do we leave school and come back home to help the family? Something just told us not to do that. We had to follow our paths and try to help in our ways and of course having a strong mum because she had to take the lead role.”
On the struggles he faced while his father was away, Kamaru said, “It was why I’m in the school, I should be back. I should be doing something else. But of course somehow, having a reasonable mother, we learn how to internalize and continue with our lives, continue with our journey on our path.”
DIFFICULT MOMENT FOR MOTHER
Speaking on how the incarceration of her husband impacted her, Kamaru’s mother Afishetu Porsha Usman, who sat in the audience said, “It was a very difficult moment because he was the breadwinner of the house. The children were still small in school. I didn’t even know what to do then. ”While still saddled with the responsibility of the house and the children, Kamaru announces that he wants to become a MMA fighter.
“That was very difficult also. It’s like “I want to start fighting”. Fighting? You want people to hurt you? I thought it was going to be WWE, where they would throw him up and down. So I said he shouldn’t do that. But he told me “mum, this is what I like to do. This is the next step”.
SURPRISE HOUSE GIFT
The UFC welterweight champion, then announced a house gift for his parents on the show which recorded over 1.1 million views.
Family means everything to Kamaru and he couldn’t hide it. While expressing his gratitude to his parents, Kamaru said, “Growing up and now being an adult and having to actually think about where I am today and all the different situations that I’ve gone through, it just brings a smile to my face. Now also being a parent myself, knowing what the two of you had to go through in life just to get us to this point. I just want to tell you that I am eternally grateful because as a father now myself, I understand that one of those moments in life is for you to feel that. I want you to know that everything that you’ve done is for the better and you helped to raise your children to a state you say that I am proud of what they become. I just want to say thank you for everything you’ve done for us, thank you, we appreciate it. I love you dad. The same to my mum, I don’t know if you notice, I don’t want you to feel that you don’t get enough credit for everything that you’ve done. You are very hardworking; you’ve done everything that you can for us. We grew up in our family home and I told you that one thing we wanted to do is to make sure that we got the house that you wanted. So we have a surprise for you, look under your seat. … Those are the keys to your new house,” Kamaru said during the show.
Kamaru is expected to take on Colby Covington in a rematch in the main event of UFC 268 on Nov. 6 in New York City.
He remains unbeaten in the UFC. He’s on an 18-fight winning streak with his lone loss dating back to 2013.