Koffi Adzitso, bottom, grapples with Jeff Anderson of Michigan in the 100-kilogram weight class at the U.S. Grappling World Team Trials on June 22 in Colorado Springs. Adzitso, of Logan, won two of three matches with Anderson, securing his spot on the national grappling team.

Former MMA fighter and Logan resident Koffi “The Lion King” Adzitso will be heading to Kazakhstan this fall.

After placing first in his division at the Grappling Olympic Trials in Colorado Springs in June, he earned a spot on Team USA and has the opportunity to represent the United States in the World Grappling Championships, Oct. 16-20, in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

At age 11, Adzitso and his family came to the United States as refugees from West Africa, and he began wrestling as a senior at Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City, where he placed second in the state.

Upon graduating he was unable to find opportunities to continue wrestling, so his next step was to fight professionally in Mixed Martial Arts. Over the 13 years in the UFC, Adzito amassed a 20-11 record, which included nine knockouts.

It was while he competed professionally that he discovered grappling, a hand-to-hand combat in which opponents use submission holds to win a match. “I discovered that grappling was similar to wrestling, so I decided to retire from MMA and focus solely on grappling,” Adzitso said.

Adzitso’s preparation for such competition is intensive and “entails a lot of wrestling, weight training, cardio workouts, lots and lots of drills,” he said. An “average day of training is somewhere between 3-5 hours a day, six days a week. The seventh day is the Lord’s day. It’s a big time commitment and I couldn’t do it without the support of my wife, Aliesha, and daughter, Nyla,” he said.

His wife, Aliesha Shaw, speaks fondly of her husband’s devotion to the sport and the dedication he puts in before each match.

“Koffi’s motivation stems from a true love for the sport of grappling. Each time he takes to the mat, it’s an opportunity for him to explore his potential and tap into his physical, mental and spiritual resources.

“He enjoys challenging himself both physically and mentally in order to push the boundaries of what he thinks is possible for himself. Although it’s nerve-wracking sometimes, watching him compete is a joy because he pours everything he has, his body, mind and heart, into it. I’m just so proud,” she said.

In addition to competing, he also trains children and adults in various forms of wrestling and martial arts.

“Whether it’s through the classes he teaches or the personal training he offers he encourages others to dig deep within themselves to reach their potential,” Shaw said.

The Koffi Fitness Training Center at Cache Valley Martial Arts in Logan offers classes in kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and many others. It is located at 953 W. 700 North in Suite 107. Those who are interested can visit to learn more.

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