Born in 1986, Francis Ngannou grew up impoverished in Cameroon. At the age of ten, he began working in the sand mines. He did this type of work until he was 17. In search for a better quality of life, Ngannou moved to France at 26, with dreams of becoming a professional boxer.
While in France, Ngannou met coach Didier Carmont. Due to the potential that Carmont had anticipated, he allowed Francis to train at no cost in his gym. While training in boxing, he was introduced to MMA coach Fernand Lopez; thus beginning a career in MMA.