In 2001, Popole Misenga’s mother was murdered during Democratic Republic of Congo’s civil war.
He was nine at the time. After walking alone for a week, he was finally rescued and brought to Kinshasa where he was first introduced to judo.
Later this month, Misenga will represent the Refugee Olympic Team for a second time after making his debut in 2016 in Brazil, where he has been living since 2013.
Misenga’s life changed in 2013 when he was in Brazil for the world judo championship.
He fled the DRC team camp without money, passport or food. He said it was his only chance and opportunity to escape after he was mistreated by his coaches and the abuse he experienced for not winning medals.
Surviving the civil war in DRC and living a challenging life in Brazil, Misenga says he never forgot his dreams and just wants to show the world that anything is possible.