Impa Kasanganay’s Power to Persevere

Professional Fighters League star Impa Kasanganay’s journey to greatness wasn’t always clear. Despite moments of uncertainty about his future, Impa’s unwavering self-belief, instilled by his parents, drove him to defy the odds in the PFL SmartCage. Fueled by an unflappable sense of self, and world-class fighting skills, Impa recently won the title of PFL Light Heavyweight Champion and the million-dollar prize that comes with it. We sat down with the MMA phenom to discuss Impa Kasanganay’s power to persevere.

Why did you choose to partner with the PFL?

I wanted to be active in an organization where I have the opportunity to earn my way up.

You can definitely earn your way up in other organizations too, but I love the system and the format that the PFL offers.

Plus, I wanted to fight the best of the best and stay extremely active throughout the year. And this year, I’ve been blessed.

[Professional fighting] is not a popularity contest, and I don’t want to talk crap to anybody or put anybody down.

[My philosophy] is: show up, do the job, dominate, and you earn your way to the next fight.

Why do you think you’ve never lost a fight since joining the PFL?

I like the challenge of being on the warpath; I’m not trying to be the guy who’s jumping over stands to yell at people.

I just love to fight, go home, ride my motorcycle, and chill with the people I love. That’s it.

The PFL gives me an environment where I can grow as a fighter, and really showcase what I can do.

I always ask people:

“Do you want to be a person who’s entertaining as a fighter? Because the way I fight is going to be entertaining. Just let me go do it.”

Was professional fighting always the plan?

When I graduated college, I debated whether I wanted to go to the military, or get my CPA or MBA and become a full-time accountant.

That was my path, but I have always been obsessed with special operations units, and careers like that.

Then I thought, maybe I’d become an officer and become a SEAL or a pararescueman.

And if I was going to be an accountant, I figured I could move to London and do some underground bare-knuckle fighting. But I had no idea what I was going to do, or what that direction would take me.

So when I left accounting and chose to fight, my faith paid off. Going after my dreams paid off.

Who do you credit for all your success?

I credit my resolve to my parents who have built their dreams. They come from Congo in central Africa, and they never make excuses.

Coming from another country, building a new life… that’s the American dream. It’s true, right?

It’s like all their hard work and sacrifice [paid off]– from not having much as a kid, losing so much, staying at the gym even after I was cut by the UFC– to sleeping in my car.

The way I look at it: having that faith paid off.

And it’s not a “woe-is-me” story. This is my story, this is my time. And this is something I get to own.

How long were you living in your car?

Five months.

I was staying in the parking lot of the gym. And one day my head coach asked, “Are you sleeping in your car? Security said something about it.”

Eventually, my teammate let me stay on his couch, just to get things back together before I moved to a farm.

I woke up, trained, hit the bag, at 6:00 a.m. because the gym opened at six. I didn’t want anybody to know, because I didn’t want a handout or anything like that.

Besides, I was fine.

My feeling was, “Hey, I’m gonna make this dream happen. I believe I’ll be a champion one day. It’s just a matter of time until I get a fight, get back on my feet, and get rolling.”

Anything you’d like to say directly to your fans?

I don’t know what you’re going through, but everybody goes through something.

And just because you’re going through something now, it doesn’t mean it’s “over” or that you’re not meant to be great.

Even if you’re the one who messed it up … you are not defined by your mistakes.

For example, you all have seen me get knocked out in front of the whole world. And if I stopped, I wouldn’t be able to have this conversation with you now.

So, stay on your path. Know you’re unconditionally loved.

I say that after every fight.

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