My Mr Universe crown, a licence to wealth —Nigerian-born Tseye Ogedegbe

The current Mr. Universe, 29-year-old Tyrone Tseye Ogedegbe, is a Briton born of Nigerian parents. The investment analyst, who lives in London, from where he travels to compete in various international body-building competitions, says he is proud of his Nigerian roots, which he traces to the illustrious Ogedegbe family in Warri, Delta State, which also produced the likes of former Super Eagles goalkeeper, the late Best Ogedegbe and Nathaniel Ogedegbe, who resides in the US. A couple of weeks ago, he visited Nigeria and STELLA BAMAWO met him in Ikoyi, Lagos, where he explained the process that led to his emergence as Mr. Universe.

HOW did you get to become Mr. Universe?

It was all about hard work, focus and trying to achieve so many things that I have never done in my life. I started off training in the same gym as Arnold Schwarzenegger, a famous actor. I started getting the passion for body-building and training. The physical appearance I was gaining was also being commended by people. One day, I was reproached at the gym by my personal trainer. It was like, you can use this physique to win competitions, and I was like, it’s okay, I’ll give it a trial.

I started body-building competitions in 2012. The first year, I did a few competitions. That same year, I did Mr. Great Britain. I also took part in Musclemania, which is the biggest natural body-building competition in the world. When I say natural, I mean we don’t take drugs or steroids; everything is pretty much from eating clean and taking good supplements. There are supplements companies who sponsor the competitions, so they give us the supplements.

Winning Musclemania, Great Britain qualified me to be a professional body builder. So, I went on to take part in the Mr. Universe Competition to compete against other people across the world. By the grace of God, I was able to take that trophy home as well. I have been working hard. I think about myself winning when I go to the stage and I have faith in God.

So would it be right to say that Mr. Universe has been your biggest achievement?

Absolutely!  Mr. Universe is a combination of different countries, so I got to compete with the best of the best.

What actually prompted you to take part in the Mr. Universe?

I felt since I had won the Mr. Great Britain contest, I could also win that of Mr. Universe. I was confident in myself. I felt if I went there and won this competition, I would be recognised in the world. A lot of people tried but did not succeed. That did not put me off. Everyone is different. I believe that if you work hard and you also have God, it can take you to places you never expected.

How did it feel when you were crowned Mr. Universe?

Words cannot express how I felt. But just to use some words to explain it, I felt accomplished. I felt my hard work had paid off because I worked hard. But at the same time, some people get what they don’t deserve. But I felt I deserved it. I got on my knees and thanked God. That was the promise I had made to God: ‘If you do this, I will go on my knees and praise you in front of the audience.’ So, as they called my name, I made the sign of the cross, went on my knees and praised God.

So how rich are you now as Mr. Universe?

There is a lot of perks. In Musclemania, the way it goes is that you get exposure, magazine articles and other promotional stuff. Just the title, Mr. Universe, is indeed a licence to make money. What they do is pay for your trips. They flew me out to Vegas. I won’t go into the details of the financials, but you must let me repeat the fact that it is a licence to make money.

I left for the (United) States when I was seven years old. From there, I went to the UK. My dad is actually in the US, while my mother is in the UK. I would say that I am a Mama’s boy. I love my mother. I am the first boy. It’s a big family. Though my parents are separated, we are all close. I am a Naija boy, so I don’t feel intimidated. The mentality is there. We are all the same.

So how did you intend to impact on the Nigerian society?

There are various things we are looking at. I was with Segun Odegbami a while ago. He mentioned that he is a part of the Heart Foundation in Nigeria. Apparently, more than 35 million Nigerians have the disease, and that is very sad. That is something I personally feel would need help.

We need to change lives for the better. I have gone out there and I feel I have conquered the world and so I came back to Nigeria. I take acting classes.

Have you faced challenges or it has been a smooth ride to the top?

Of course, there have been challenges. It is not always easy get to the top. I have a regimen. I train a couple of hours per day and six days per week. I train each body part on separate days and I devised a plan that allows quick recovery. I also ensure that I do not over-train a specific muscle group in the body. When I was preparing for the Mr. Universe, I hurt my thumb. I had to place a cast on it. It can be hard, but that is where being persistent comes in.

I am not into full-time body building. I have a job so I have to combine everything together. I am a graduate from a university in the UK. I have degrees in Business Management and Information Technology. At present, I work as an investment analyst. I try to manage my time. In my break time, I go to the gym.

What is your perception of Nigeria?

I see Nigeria as a beautiful place. But there is a lot of room for improvement. While there is a lot of tension, we have to use its potential to better our lots.

What advice would you give to upcoming Nigerians?

They should be disciplined, focused and patient. Those attributes are very important for one to excel. Drive and determination are needed. With these, I believe you can get to wherever you desire. The Paul Okoku Foundation for the less-privileged kids is a wonderful project. I will be attending the event. My role is going there to flex my muscles, to show them what I did to become Mr. Universe.

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