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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Former Alabama track and field star wins WWE NXT Breakout Tournament 

Courtesy of WWE
Former UA athlete Oba Femi wins WWE NXT Men’s Breakout Tournament.

Three-time SEC shot put champion and Alabama alum Isaac Odugbesan, known as Oba Femi in the WWE world, has taken the world of sports entertainment by storm. He won the 2024 WWE NXT Men’s Breakout Tournament in dominant fashion, dismantling every opponent he faced from Dec. 12 to Jan. 2. By winning this tournament, Femi now possesses a contract for a guaranteed championship match in NXT, the development brand of World Wrestling Entertainment.  

The finals of the tournament took place on the NXT “New Year’s Evil” television special. Femi used his strength and agility to overpower his opponent, Riley Osborne of the wrestling stable Chase U. Osborne tried to use his high-flying abilities, but Femi drilled him with a vicious powerbomb and pinned his shoulders to the mat for a count of three. 

“I’ve said this before, and I will say it again,” Femi said in a WWE digital exclusive after winning the match. “I am backed by destiny. That means no man breathing can stop me.” 

His mother, Maria Belleh Odugbesan, said Femi has loved professional wrestling from a young age. 

“As early as 6 years old, Isaac was always watching wrestling,” Odugbesan said. “As a young teenager, he would buy CDs of the previous day. I had to support him to buy those CDs. At 12 years old, he would mimic Triple H when he came out the shower and spit water from his mouth. He drew most of the wrestlers as a young lad. He studied studio art eventually. Little did we know that from shot put he would find his way back to wrestling.” 

Isaac Odugbesan grew up in Nigeria, and he won 10 medals in shot put in the Nigerian University Games Association before traveling to the U.S. to continue his career. While competing for the Crimson Tide 2020-22, he won multiple SEC indoor shot put titles, in 2021 and 2022, and one outdoor title, in 2021. 

Alabama throwing coach Derek Yush talked about Femi in a 2021 Sports Illustrated article. 

“He is someone that we had seen at a couple of track meets and he just looked the part,” Yush said. “He looked like he could be that next-level guy.” 

Odugbesan signed with WWE’s name, image and likeness program in December of 2021 and was given the ring name of “Oba Femi.” He was called up to the developmental brand in 2023 and has been on a path of destruction the past few weeks. 

“NXT is lacking in one department, and that department is brute force,” Femi said. “That is exactly what I have to offer: brute force.”  

The NXT Universe loves him, but no one loves and supports him more than his parents do.  

“We are so proud of him,” Maria Belleh Odugbesan said. “We are his biggest fans. When I see him wrestle, I keep asking myself if this is real.” 

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