The United States, Brazil and Canada. Those are the three countries that produce the most mixed martial artists across the globe. And while many martial artists aren’t necessarily born in a certain country, they still find the need to represent it.
Enter Strikeforce light heavyweight Ovince St. Preux.
St. Preux, who was born and raised in the United States, also finds himself representing another country at heart. While much smaller, the country of Haiti also holds special meaning for the man commonly known as “OSP.” This is the location where St. Preux’s parents were born and raised before making the transition to the United States. However, despite being born inside red, white and blue territory, St. Preux believes it’s his job to carry the torch for the Haitian people.
“It means a lot to me knowing that I have the opportunity to represent my parent’s homeland,” admitted St. Preux in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “My family in Haiti didn’t have much, so they came over here [to the United States] to live a better life.
“Almost all of my brothers and sisters went to college and graduated with a degree. My parents have always instilled it in us to not forget where we came from. For me to honor the Haitian people, ultimately honors my mom and dad.”
While honoring the country of Haiti would be more than enough for the average person, St. Preux feels the need to take it one step further. That step means representing the country of Haiti through excellence and achievement, even if that means holding himself to a higher standard. After all, St. Preux feels that it’s his job to carry Haiti on his back and shine a light on a less fortunate country.
“Of course, I feel pressure representing my Haitian roots so prominently. More and more, Haitians know who I am now. I carry the flag with me into the cage and in a way, it feels like you’re putting up a whole country on your back,” admitted St. Preux. “That alone can be pretty tough.
“The Haitian people are a very proud group of people. A lot of folks don’t know that Haiti was one of the first country to successfully rebel from Europe in 1804. Haiti was also the first black country in the New World, and the only contemporary country in the world that was born from a slave revolt. When I think of my Haitian roots, I think of all those things and more. That makes me proud. I want to go out there and make my Haitian community just as proud of me as I am of them.”
Through all the pressure and added weight, St. Preux knows he doesn’t walk alone. Through the help of his family and the Haitain people, St. Preux feels more support than he ever has. But it’s St. Preux’s faith in God that has allowed him to excel and showcase his God-given talents on one of the industry’s top promotions in Strikeforce.
“God comes first in my life. Through him, all things are possible. For all that I achieve in this game, he deserves the praise. He graciously allows me to get the money to support my family,” said St. Preux.
“I also owe a great amount of my success to my parents for all they did for me,” said St. Preux. “While I have found a home in Immokalee, Fla., I would also like to thank all the Haitian people that are out there supporting me.”
Top Photo: Ovince St. Preux makes his way to the cage carrying a Haitian flag (Esther Lin/All Elbows)