‘My dad won Olympic gold – now people call me the world’s best MMA prospect’

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    Norbert Novenyi Jr cracks a wry smile when asked about being called the best MMA prospect in the the world – but he's fully aware that his journey to stardom has begun.

    Born in Hungary before moving to England as a teenager of a dream of becoming a professional fighter, Novenyi Jr had plenty of pedigree behind him.

    Norbert Novenyi Snr won light-heavyweight wrestling gold at the 1980 Summer Olympics before turning to acting, evening starring algonside Arnold Schwarzenegger while becoming a recognisable star in Budapest.

    Novenyi Jr has lived away from the noise in forging his own path to athletic glory, winning three amateur bouts and six professional contests on a whirlwind path towards the top.

    READ MORE: 'I flogged cars before becoming lead Bellator ring girl – and now I'm training to fight'

    Now looking up the Bellator middleweight rankings after five consecutive promotional victories, the 23-year-old returns against Kamil Oniszczuk on June 16 at Bellator 297 with more confidence than ever before.

    Speaking to Daily Star Sport from his second home of London Shootfighters gym, Novenyi Jr says: "As I was growing up my dad was all over the news having fights, it's always been there but I didn't realise how much work he had to put it. Now I understand all that.

    "My mum and my dad let me find my own path and let my try out several different sports, they wanted me to do it but didn't know if I could ever make money from it.

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    "They kept pushing me into education and wanted me to go to university, but they saw me progress and let me follow my dream – although my dad did want me to go into football."

    That dream became a passion when Novenyi Jr moved to England with his mother, seeing big names that had thrived in the major promotions – leading him on a path to London Shootfighters.

    He continued: "I was 13 when we moved over but ever since I was 10 I knew I was going to be a fighter. That was always my goal and when the opportunity came up I was never going to miss out on it."

    Even as an amateur Novenyi Jr was looking ahead to his professional debut, winning a world championship in grappling and fighting in local competitions back in Hungary.

    Three wins caught the eyes of Bellator, with one pro win in UCMMA enough to convince bosses of his potential before a 2018 debut win at Bellator 196.

    Novenyi Jr was up to four professional wins before a three-year layoff due to injury and Covid, with his return bringing a sixth victory back in February by way of first-round TKO.

    The prospect credits the influence of Shootfighters, where Michael Venom Page and KSI also train, having once had to get three buses from his home after school to make sessions.

    Forming a passion for martial arts from his father, whom he wrestles on his infrequent returns to Hungary, Novenyi Jr credits head coach Alexis Demetriades for moulding his talent into a winning machine.

    He concluded: "I just want to be the best in the world and I will work my a*** off until I get there. I want people to see what I do and jump on the hype train if you like.

    "I want people to see the work I've been doing for 15 years. I'm doing it for myself and for my friends and family.

    "I'm going to build my experience up, I've got there more fights on this contract – and after that I can start chasing titles. I truly believe that."

    Novenyi Jr takes on Kamil Oniszczuk on June 16 at Bellator 297, on the undercard of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Championship bout between current champion Vadim Nemkov and Yoel Romero in Chicago.

    Bellator events can be watched live on BBC iPlayer in the UK, with BELLATOR 297 taking place on Friday June 16.

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