Togo’s Sylvain Kokou proudly delivered for his nation when he secured a gold medal in MMA at the 2023 African Games, in neighbouring Ghana last week, as the sport debuted on the Olympic platform.

The 22- year-old featherweight (65,8 kg /- 145 lbs) possesses an undefeated amateur MMA record of 4 – 0, with a background in boxing and Muay Thai, and it was the nearby Games that provided him with his first international opportunity to medal.

“So far in my country we have only one gym for MMA fighting and it is Pitbull Gym headed by coach Henry Jallah. He has helped develop the sport and MMA fighters in the country.”

It was with Coach Jallah’s encouragement that Sylvain transitioned to MMA and he aspires to an international career in the sport: “My goal in MMA is to become a world champion one day and to be able to help more people to become good fighters. My motivation comes from having seen that through MMA I can achieve my dreams and earn more money to help people all over the world.”

To pursue his dream, the Togan champion has had to be resolute: “The only difficulty I have had in accessing training is when I have run out of money, and I haven’t had the finances to travel to the gym or to afford basic living costs. It is my family and coach that have supported me to become a fighter, and the biggest opportunity that I have in the sport is that my coach is always there for me anytime I need his help.”

To improve his day-to-day situation and work opportunities, Sylvain is training to become a general gym coach, instructing clients in body building, CrossFit and general fitness. The position will make his work-life balance easier too: “Because, if I’m working in the same gym I train at, any time the team is ready for training I can more easily join the session.”

Speaking of his experience competing in the African Games, what stood out for the medallist most was the occasion to compete against athletes from other nations. It has fuelled him to want to train even harder to become a great athlete for his nation: “I have learnt that there are a lot of guys that are trying their best to get to the top, so I have to keep on training more…”

“I feel so happy… It is a blessing to win a gold medal for my country on an Olympic platform. Next for me is to train more and win more matches for my country. I want to use this opportunity to give thanks again to GAMMA for providing the platform – Thank you!”