The world of Naruto is no stranger to that of professional sports, with characters like the titular Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and the other denizens of Konoha making their way to organizations such as the UFC, NFL, NBA, and more, and it seems as if one of the defensive tackles for the Cincinnati Bengals, Larry Ogunjobi, believes that Masashi Kishimoto's Shonen series has changed his life. In a recent interview with Crunchyroll, the streaming service that focuses on the world of anime, the NFL star details how he got into the series and how the adventures of the Seventh Hokage reflected his own.
Ogunjobi went into detail regarding how his training in high school and college reflected that of Naruto's, and how that training was able to help him in making history:
"I was biking and running at the YMCA every day and went from 350 lbs. To 247 lbs., bulked back up to 267 lbs., and ended up getting five scholarship offers. Ended up going to Charlotte for college. Now I’m in college and with Naruto, the anime is going on throughout all of this for me (probably like the Pain arc or somewhere around that). It felt like we were going through our trials and tribulations together; it was actually really cool. Now I’m working hard, I’m grinding in college, and the only thing I could compare my process to was these storylines in anime — I knew I was special and that I was the main character of my story — and I ended up being the first player ever drafted to the NFL out of my college. "
Later in the interview, the Bengals defensive tackle also was able to express why he feels Naruto is his favorite character in all of anime:
"Have to stick with Naruto for all the reasons mentioned above. He’s so relatable to me. He was different from everybody. I remember my grandpa telling me I was special and that I was different. At the time, I was an obese kid...I didn’t know what he was talking about. But I just knew that me being different and working hard would pay off. God always finds a way to make things work out for you. Are there going to be trials? Yes. Are there going to be tragedies? Yes. But the triumphs are going to outweigh everything. "
What do you think of Naruto's influence on the world of professional sports? Feel free to let us know in the comments or hit me up directly on Twitter @EVComedy to talk all things comics, anime, and the world of the Hidden Leaf.