Wale Omotoso applying survival skills in the ring after rough childhood

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Wale Omotoso is nicknamed “Lucky Boy” for good reason.

Wale Omotoso and Jessie Vargas

Wale Omotoso lands a right hand during his fight with Jessie Vargas in March 2013.

“I’m lucky to be alive after what I lived through in Africa,” said Omotoso, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, which has a reputation as one of the world’s most dangerous cities. “I’ve been stabbed in my right hand, my head, my back and my ass. I’ve been shot at, but never shot. If I was still in my country, I might be dead.”

Born into poverty as the second oldest of five siblings, Oyewale Omotoso was 7 years old when his mother died giving birth to a girl who also perished.

Omotoso and his brothers eventually joined a street gang in Lagos, where they terrorized local shopkeepers and citizens.

“We were four boys and one girl, with my sister being the oldest. My dad was always working, so it was just us at home,” Omotoso said. “As the oldest boy, I went into the streets, took stuff from people and sold it for us to survive.”

That survival instinct has facilitated ring success for Wale Omotoso (25-1, 21 KOs), who will be after his third straight knockout in Sunday’s 147-pound bout against southpaw Sammy Vasquez Jr. (18-0, 13 KOs) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, which will be broadcast live on CBS (4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT).

“This fight is a different ballgame for me,” said Omotoso, who will be in his fourth fight under trainer Eric Brown. “I’ve learned a lot from my experiences, and I’m taking it to the next level.”

Omotoso, 30, made an immediate impact in the ring when he first ventured into a Lagos boxing gym as a teenager.

“With my power, I was knocking people down and out,” he said. “It got to where I was sparring with heavyweights, or they had to [rotate] like two guys at a time against me.”

Omotoso’s professional career began in Australia in 2006 with trainer and promoter Murray Thompson, under whom he went 18-0 with 16 knockouts.

Omotoso made his U.S. debut in September 2011 with a fifth-round stoppage of Calvin Odom in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He’s 6-1 with four KOs since then, losing only to unbeaten Jessie Vargas by unanimous decision in March 2013.

“He’s a lot sharper than for the Vargas fight,” Brown said of Omotoso. “He’s determined not to be stopped.”

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