ACCORDING TO THE handbook of the Federal Correctional Establishment in Seagoville, Texas, there are six televisions for the roughly 175 inmates housed in its satellite tv for pc camp. Televisions are made obtainable from 6 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and correctional officers can terminate viewing at any time if acceptable noise ranges will not be maintained.
There aren’t any formal exceptions to those guidelines. Jail protocol is nonnegotiable. Nevertheless, any inmate who served time there from 2013 to 2020 will inform you there was one exception.
Over the previous seven years, nearly each time UFC welterweight Kamaru Usman fought, the minimal safety satellite tv for pc camp became a full-fledged cheering part. All six televisions, which the inmates normally divided, have been turned to the UFC broadcast. Nearly each inmate packed himself into the tv room, leaving the library, dormitory and multipurpose room empty.
The definition of “acceptable noise ranges” within the frequent space took on a brand new which means, and it wasn’t uncommon for a correctional officer to lose observe of time and permit the night to increase previous midnight.
“I actually cannot say there was anything we regarded ahead to extra,” says Dee Ray, an inmate in 2007-13 and 2017-20. “Nothing may substitute that. That was a time when everybody got here collectively — Black, white and Mexican — and loved the festivities. It sort of put us within the area, so to talk. We did not take into consideration what we have been going by means of throughout that point.”
These battle nights have been particular in Seagoville, and Usman by no means allow them to down. Usman, who will defend his title in opposition to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 251 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, has by no means misplaced a battle within the UFC. On the Saturdays Usman fought, your entire jail would go to mattress buzzing over his victory and spend days discussing its particulars.
And on the heart of these psychological breaks from jail actuality was the rationale these breaks existed within the first place: inmate Muhammed Nasiru Usman. Kamaru’s father.
MUHAMMED USMAN WAS launched from the Seagoville Federal Correctional Establishment in February after serving practically 10 years of a 15-year sentence.
He was arrested within the early hours of a summer season day in 2009 at his residence close to Dallas. His spouse, Kamaru’s mom, Afishetu P. Usman, remembers a SWAT crew pulling their 20-year-old son, Mohammed, from the entryway as he answered the door. Federal brokers took Muhammed into custody and charged him with a number of counts of well being care fraud, claiming an ambulance firm underneath his possession knowingly submitted false claims.
In Could 2010 — 11 months after Muhammed’s arrest, all of which he spent detained — a jury convicted him on 14 federal costs. The consequence was a 180-month jail sentence and restitution of $1.Three million.
A month earlier than his father’s trial started, Kamaru gained an NCAA Division II nationwide championship in wrestling for the College of Nebraska at Kearney. Shortly after his collegiate wrestling profession ended, Kamaru knowledgeable his father of his curiosity in blended martial arts and his plan to pursue knowledgeable profession.
The dialog passed off by means of visitation glass in a detention heart in Dallas.
“He got here to me and stated he needed to be a fighter,” Muhammed says. “He had some coaching video on his telephone, and confirmed it to me by means of the glass. I instructed him it is not what I needed for him, however I gave him my blessing.”
From that second, Kamaru’s MMA profession moved quickly. In 2015, three years after his professional debut, he earned a UFC contract by successful “The Final Fighter” actuality sequence. Muhammed was in Seagoville by then, and the jail began to rally round his son. For a lot of, Kamaru was a connection to the skin world as he would meet with different inmates throughout visits along with his father.
“Kamaru gave me one thing to stay up for,” says David Pettiette, a Seagoville inmate from 2013 to 2020. “It made my time go faster. It was sort of neat to know his dad, and expertise that with somebody for six years.”
From 2015 to 2019, Kamaru fought 11 occasions within the UFC, together with his bouts on TUF. Regardless of going undefeated, he by no means made a single look on pay-per-view. Colby Covington, one in every of Kamaru’s fiercest rivals, really used that reality in opposition to him throughout a information convention in 2018. Covington instructed Kamaru to “persist with primary cable,” as a result of he wasn’t in style sufficient for PPV occasions.
Nearly nobody knew that behind the scenes, Kamaru had requested the UFC to not guide him on PPV till he fought for a title and would don’t have any selection. He knew the Seagoville jail camp would not buy a PPV for his father.
“There have been occasions it was onerous, and I cried about sure issues,” says Kamaru, who didn’t publicly disclose his father’s incarceration till early 2019. “However as bizarre as it’s to say this, all my life I used to be sort of put able to not rely on my dad. After all I did, however I did not want him. I used to be by no means a kind of children to say, ‘My dad does not love me as a result of he did not come to my wrestling meet.’ I knew who my dad was, and I knew he cherished me.”
KAMARU USMAN IS 33 years outdated, and he has lived nearly half of his life with out direct entry to his father.
Muhammed immigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria in 1989, when Kamaru was 2. He initially meant to complete his training in pharmaceutical research and return residence, however he shortly determined he ought to convey his three younger boys to the U.S. as an alternative.
It took Muhammed six years to get his kids right here. From 1989 to 1995, he didn’t make a single journey residence. The one correspondence he had along with his household was through telephone or written letters he would give to anybody touring to his village. He usually despatched the household cash. One 12 months, he despatched a Nintendo.
“The youngsters have been taking a look at it, ‘What is that this? What is that this?'” Afishetu says. “We had no [electricity]. I instructed them, ‘Your father despatched you this, as a result of that is what you’ll be enjoying once you go to America.’ We needed to wait two weeks for the lights to return on, however then they watched it and noticed the little picture leaping. They have been very excited.”
Even when Kamaru reunited along with his father at age 8, they didn’t spend an abundance of time collectively. Nonetheless, each say their relationship was sturdy. When Kamaru confirmed curiosity — then dominance — in beginner wrestling, neither Muhammed nor Afishetu attended any matches. Neither was conversant in the game, and each nervous about harm.
“Kamaru gave me one thing to stay up for. It made my time go faster. It was sort of neat to know his dad, and expertise that with somebody for six years.”
Seagoville inmate from 2013 to 2020
When Kamaru tried to clarify the game to his mom, she responded, “You are preventing folks? You need the college calling us day by day?”
“My father has solely seen me wrestle 3 times,” says Kamaru, who was 53-Three throughout his closing 12 months at Bowie Excessive College in Arlington, Texas. “My senior 12 months, he watched me get third within the state championships. My junior 12 months of faculty, at a meet in Grand Prairie, which was proper subsequent to our residence in Arlington, after which the Division II nationwide championships in 2009 in Houston. That was the final time he noticed me compete dwell.”
Muhammed has seen extra of Kamaru’s athletic achievements from jail than in particular person — and it was Kamaru who ensured that occurred. Muhammed by no means requested him to marketing campaign for bouts on cable as an alternative of PPV.
Throughout one in every of his first visits to Seagoville, earlier than his look on TUF in 2015, Kamaru came upon in regards to the tv room — studying that his father had entry to a tv that might air UFC broadcasts. And although he’d grow to be accustomed to performing with out his father in attendance, he thought his father may need wanted it at that time in his life.
“For those who’re in a spot like that, it is simple to really feel such as you’re simply an outcast and nobody cares about you — that you don’t have any one on the skin ready for you,” Kamaru says. “That is sort of the stigma.
“So to have the ability to be on the skin and do one thing that everybody in that jail may see — as a result of in a spot like that, everyone seems to be saying issues like, ‘Oh, I used to field’ or ‘My nephew packing containers’ — to have the ability to present them, there was a way of pleasure for me that I may present that to my father.”
Kamaru Usman responds to Jorge Masvidal’s prediction for his or her battle and explains why a win over Masvidal would imply greater than beating Colby Covington.
THE LAST TIME Kamaru fought on primary cable was in November 2018, when he beat former light-weight champion Rafael dos Anjos through unanimous resolution in Las Vegas. His previous two fights — a win over Tyron Woodley for the welterweight title in March 2019 and a profitable protection in opposition to Covington in December — have been on PPV.
After all, it was troublesome for Muhammed to overlook his son’s first two title fights, however when he was granted his launch from Seagoville on Feb. 5, the timing, in a way, felt good.
“This was the plan, in my thoughts, on how I needed to progress within the sport,” Kamaru says. “What’s larger than beating [dos Anjos] in a foremost occasion? Turning into a champion. OK, I did that. What’s larger than changing into a champion? Defending the title because the headliner of a UFC PPV. OK, I did that. What’s larger than that? Headlining UFC Worldwide Combat Week in Las Vegas, with my dad being there.
“That was going to imply every thing to me.”
In February, it regarded as if that plan was coming to fruition. The UFC was focusing on a battle between Kamaru and Masvidal for July 11 in Las Vegas. Dee Ray, who was launched from Seagoville this 12 months, additionally had plans to attend. Ray, Muhammed and their wives would go to dinner earlier than the battle, with no fear of a “visitation window” ending issues abruptly.
However all of these plans have been placed on maintain as a result of coronavirus outbreak. As a substitute of having fun with his first battle week with Muhammed, Kamaru is hunkered down in a testing bubble in Abu Dhabi. Muhammed will watch his son’s title protection with Afishetu in Texas.
As disappointing as that improvement was, Kamaru is aware of it is merely a delay. His father will expertise his MMA profession in particular person.
“On the finish of the day, this does not change what is going on to occur,” Kamaru says. “I’ve to go on the market and handle enterprise. There is a larger plan in place. Possibly I battle Georges St-Pierre when that is over in Las Vegas or Rogers Stadium in Canada. Possibly one thing else. However in some type or trend, my dad’s going to return to a giant one.”