Part machine, but all heart, Ngo Okafor is the owner/founder of Iconoclast Fitness Studio, the WeWork space for independent personal trainers. Ngo is also a fitness expert, a father and philanthropist. After a childhood spent bedridden in Nigeria, he moved to the United States to study computer science at the University of Connecticut. Never one to shy away from hard work (he had his mother photocopy class notes when he was confined to the hospital, so he could keep up with his schoolwork), he took up boxing at the relatively advanced age of 31 — and proceeded to win the Golden Gloves Championship two years in a row.
Using the same laser-like focus, Ngo built his personal training business into a model that others would envy, picking up accolades such as being named one of New York’s “hottest trainers whipping beautiful people into shape” by the New York Post. Nike has also taken notice, signing Ngo as a chapter leader for its NIKE+NYC Training Program. Ngo has worked with bold-facers such as Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Lopez, Chanel Iman, and fashion designer Marissa Webb.
Ngo is frequently quoted as a fitness expert in publications as varied as Elle, Glamour, O-The Oprah Magazine, Men’s Health, and is often a guest on television programs like Good Day New York on Fox 5. He’s earned this loyal following by espousing a fitness belief that the mind is the most important muscle a person needs to develop. “I believe that the body is a slave to our minds and will do anything we tell it to do”. Ngo further says “when I decided to enter the Golden Gloves tournament at the age of 31, my friends laughed at me, people in the boxing gym laughed at me, but I believed in myself. None of them are laughing now.”
However, the country of his heritage never left his heart. When he’s not in the gym, Ngo works with the non-profit he founded, Champion Spirit Foundation, which provides facilities in Nigeria where children can exercise and learn to box, free of charge, in an effort to raise their self-esteem.
As if all that weren’t enough, Ngo’s stature and physique has made him a sought after model and actor, appearing alongside the likes of Gisele Bundchen, Mary J. Blige, and Lil’ Kim in magazines such as Vogue, W, V, and WSJ. He recently appeared in the movie, “True Story”, with Jonah Hill and James Franco. Most importantly, he also makes time to get to the local park with his wife and young son.