Ngo Okafor, the son of a PhD graduate from Harvard University, a success in the boxing ring (a two-time Golden Gloves Champion), and an accomplished model who has featured in several reputable magazines such as Vogue, Fortune magazine, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Vibe, The Source, ESPN magazine, W, among others.
Exclusive Interview with Ngo
Golden ICONS:Thank you for giving Golden ICONS the opportunity to talk to you, as we recognize that you have a very busy schedule. Once again, thank you.
Ngo:You’re welcome. It’s truly my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Golden ICONS:Congratulations on your accomplishments thus far, especially becoming a two-timeGolden Gloves Championin 2008 and 2009 in the Heavyweight Open Class category. What was the experience like while preparing for it, and after you won the first and second time?
Ngo:I will never forget the day that I started boxing. It was always a dream of mine to play sports at a high level and compete with the best in the game. It was perfect for me because I did not have to learn any teammates’ position. It was just me and my will to succeed against that of my opponent. I threw myself into it completely. I breathed it, lived it and dreamt it. It consumed my whole being. The New York Golden Gloves Tournament is the oldest and largest amateur boxing tournament outside the Olympics in the world. Winning was the only thing I thought about. Losing was not an option. When I won in 2008, it was more than I had ever imagined. To win at the Madison Square Garden, in front of a sold out audience was amazing. It was the happiest day of my life. The first was definitely a dream come true and the second championship was about making history…and I DID. No one else has ever won back-to-back Golden Gloves championships at the age that I did it.
Golden ICONS:So after winning two back-to-back titles, what’s next for you as a boxer? Should we expect to see more from you in the boxing world or will you focus more on acting?
Ngo:The jury is still out on me fighting professionally. I need to have the right team of promoters, managers and publicists behind me for that to happen. Boxing is a brutal sport and I would like to make sure that my family will be taken care of, before I decide to throw my hat into the pro ranks. Right now, I’m mentoring and coaching a few up and coming boxers, helping them realize their dreams of becoming champions. I’m currently producing a documentary about making it in America and succeeding as an athlete.
Golden ICONS: You had a recent role as an actor in a movie titled ‘THE REBOUND‘ with Catherine Zeta-Jones. When will it be out in the theatres? And could you please give us a snippet of what the movie is about, and what your role was?
Ngo:“The Rebound” is aromantic comedy.I can’t tell too much about the film, but it’s me doing what I do best. I play a boxer in the film. I want everyone to go out and check out the film when it comes out. The release of the film has been pushed back a few times for different reasons. The new release for the US is scheduled for spring 2010.
Golden ICONS:I know that you went through all the trials one can possibly expect anyone from grassroots to becoming a successful model. Every door you tried to penetrate through got closed based on several criticisms, as you have mentioned recently that people in influential positions kept saying: “you’re too big, too muscular, too tall, to grow my hair and all kinds of other insensitive comments which were meant to consciously or unconsciously break my spirit.” I definitely have to commend you for not giving up, and also would love to commend those beautiful ICONS that gave you a chance like “the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul,Mary J. Bligeand the Queen Bee,rapper Lil’ KimforMAC Cosmetics”. What do you have to say about these beautiful ICONS, and what was the experience like while working with them?
Ngo:These women are definitely trailblazers and leaders in the music industry. They are both great artists and I’m a big fan of their work. I was able to go on the road with Mary J. Blige’s band. We went to South Africa and several cities in the US. In the time I spent with them, I learned how important a strong work ethic is. Talent can only take you so far. Hard work will make you a star.
Golden ICONS:It is also very impressive to know that you have featured as a model in a lot of reputable magazines such as: “Vogue, Fortune magazine, Men’s Health,Men’s Fitness, Vibe,The Source, ESPN magazine, and W, among many others”. What reasonable advice do you have for aspirant models? What would you say to other young individuals who would like to follow your footsteps as a model?
Ngo:My advice to aspiring models is to be dedicated, focused and hungry. If you truly believe that modeling and/or acting is your destiny, then go after it with unyielding force and never take “NO” for answer. Use the word “NO” as a motivator. Hard work is the key to success. You have to take care of your body. Your body is your tool. You have to continue to work on perfecting your body. It’s a never-ending job.
Golden ICONS:How do you balance your hectic work schedule with your personal life, and what do you do for leisure?
Ngo:My work is my life. I’m pretty much a workaholic. I love what I do, so every minute I put into it is for the love of the business. Even though it can be challenging at times, I enjoy every minute of it.
Golden ICONS:As you have clearly mentioned in the past, becomingGolden Gloves Championin boxing is just one of your dreams. What are some of your other aspirations?
Ngo:I want to write and produce films. I would like to run one of the most powerful production companies in the world. My biggest dream is to make films that portray Nigeria and Nigerians in a positive light. In the near future, I would like to get married and have children.
Golden ICONS:Who would you say contributed the most to your success?
Ngo:I would say my grandfather. I was named after him. He was an artist and a free spirit. I have always believed that he is watching and guiding me on my journey. My father played a large role in my success. He taught me the importance of hard work. He drove 2 hours each way to-and-from work and would come home and do some more work. He taught me that no one has time to listen to excuses. There are two types of people in this world, he would say: people who succeed and people who make excuses and blame others for not succeeding.
Golden ICONS:Tell us more about your documentary that is in the works. Is it a project that you have been working on for a long time? Can you give us a teaser on some unknown interesting facts about your life we can expect to discover?
Ngo:The documentary is about my life. It tells my story of growing up in Nigeria, coming to America and the story behind my life in boxing and in the entertainment business. The documentary was the motivating force for me to fight in my second Golden Gloves tournament. I needed a reason to fight and the documentary was it. I wanted to make history and tell a story about it. I had to win because we all know that nobody wants to listen to the story of a loser. So, I had no choice but to train hard in order to win. You have to check it out. There is so much that no one except members of my family know about me that I will share in the film. People think they know, but they don’t have a clue.
Golden ICONS:You mentioned earlier that your Dad attained his PhD graduate degree fromHarvard University; that is very impressive to know. How is your family dealing with your fabulous career path as a Model, Boxer, and Entertainer?
Ngo:My brother, you know how Naija parents are. They don’t care too much for the entertainment business. All they care about is that you can pay your bills, help them with their bills and give them grandchildren. I’m working on the grandchildren part.
Golden ICONS:Lastly, are you a fan of Nollywood movies, and do you have plans to work on anyNigeriabased production in the future?
Ngo:I am a big fan of Nigerian movies. It has always been a dream of mine to come home and work with some of the great Nigerian filmmakers and actors. I believe that the Nollywood film industry will explode soon and gross more money than other film industries in other countries.
To learn more about Ngo, visithttp://getingo.com/
Interview by Bode Ojo for Golden ICONS Inc. Golden ICONS is a celebrity, lifestyle, inspirational and entertainment magazine tailored to embrace and highlight the outstanding deeds of ICONS and Citizens of Africa, America and Europe.
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