It's Ninja Time: South Euclid Native Competes On American Ninja Warrior Junior
South Euclid native Nathanael “Ninja Nutin” Honvou returns to season 3 of American Ninja Warrior Junior today to defend his winning title.
After winning season 2 of American Ninja Warrior Junior at just 9 years old, the now 11-year-old Nathanael Honvou is back to try and reclaim his national title for season 3.
The South Euclid native received all the goods and glory from friends, family and the Cleveland community following his televised victory and a whopping $15,000 grand prize. South Euclid mayor Georgine Welo even organized a 50-car parade to honor his win.
“Everyone was really surprised, like not even I thought I was gonna win,” says Nathaneal. “I knew I was gonna do well, but I didn’t think I would win the entire thing, so everybody in my community was super happy for me.”
Nathaneal and his supporters often refer to him as “Ninja Nutin,” as his African middle name Nutin, translates to “extraordinary.”
“He's always been really good at athletics,” says his mother Aria. “But this sport is very unique and new. Ninja is such a sport where risk and error is possible so easily. That was some of the stress about going into season three. Everyone’s gunning to win. They're all gunning for Nathaneal in particular.”
Because Nathaneal is still the reigning champ, the pressure to train and dominate season 3 was indeed heightened. This season, he moved up an age division, resulting in more difficult races, which Nathaneal says was quite nerve wracking for someone who had a title to defend.
Nathaneal battled that by training every chance he had, even in the midst of the pandemic. Luckily, with the money he won, he had the chance to build a training gym in his garage in addition to the race he already has set up in his backyard. Nathaneal also visits facilities both a short drive away from his house and in Columbus to better prepare for the show and other regional and national ninja competitions.
“I feel like doing ninja gives me a lot of personal pride,” he says, “because it's like if you're working really hard on an obstacle that you can't get, and you get it, that overwhelms you with happiness.”
But Nathaneal has even bigger aspirations for his future. “I want to single handedly make [ninja] more popular,” he says. “I definitely want to be on the adult show because that'll be really cool. That's kind of, like, my main goal.”
The eighth episode and Nathaneal’s return to American Ninja Warrior Junior drops today, October 21 and can be streamed on Peacock.