Strictly's Ugo Monye hit by devastating family tragedy within weeks of divorce
Strictly Come Dancing star Ugo Monye is all smiles on the dance floor when he showcases his best moves with partner Oti Mabuse.
But the rugby legend has recently suffered from immense heartache having got divorced and losing his beloved father in the space of just months.
After his first ever live performance, a Samba to Iko Iko (My Bestie) by Justin Wellington ft Small Jam, Ugo explained he had actually been at his father's funeral earlier that day.
Because of this, the brave sportsman dedicated the dance to his dad, Theophilus, who died from prostate cancer aged 81.
"My dad passed away a couple of weeks ago, prostate cancer, and this morning we had the funeral," he told host Claudia Winkleman.
"And during the funeral, we spoke about today being a day of celebration and that’s exactly how today felt.
"There’s no better way to celebrate than through dancing and so today feels really special."
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Ugo has two daughters, Phoenix, four, and Ruby, one, who he credits with inspiring his decision to do the show.
"My two beautiful daughters never had a chance to see me on the rugby pitch," he explained in a statement.
"So, to know they can watch me waltzing and twirling every week is really special to me.
"I love an outfit at the best of times, so bring on the sequins," he added.
Sadly, Ugo announced he had split from his wife and the mother of his kids, Lucy, shortly before he began starring on Strictly.
They had met in 2014 and married in 2016, and insisted their split was amicable and with no third party involved.
The news had Strictly fans up in arms wondering if the dreaded "curse" had begun before the series even aired - but 38-year-old Ugo insisted this wasn't the case.
Speaking to The Sun, he said: "It’s been hard. At times things have seemed a bit overwhelming but it’s been a tough period for us both.
"We weren’t in a volatile relationship, we never hated each other and there was no third party.
"Forget the Strictly curse — it’s the Covid curse! We ended up where we ended up."
Ugo reportedly moved out of the family home in West London a few weeks prior, but says the couple remain focused on doing what's right for their children and are even considering a family holiday next year.
He also admitted he had yet to tell his friends about the situation because the conversation would be "too painful".
Since he began his gruelling training regime on Strictly, Ugo revealed he has lost a stone, and is beginning to get concerned he looks like Simon Cowell.
"I used to take the mick out of him for how high his trousers were and how deep his shirts – but now that is my life," Ugo told The Mirror.
"I put my trousers on and I wonder what chest size they are as they are literally just under my rib cage. They have never been higher.
"If you see me walking around London in flared trousers and a deep shirt then you know I have the Strictly bug."
He admitted he think being picked for the show "couldn’t have come at a better time" after he gorged on food and booze during lockdown.
He also said he feels "safe" on the programme despite protests about three dancers refusing Covid vaccinations.
Ugo, who last week danced the quickstep with partner Oti to The Jive Aces’ Bring Me Sunshine, said: "We have been training three weeks and I have lost 15 pounds.
"I wear my smartwatch to clock how many steps we do as I think people don’t appreciate dancing is a truly athletic sport.
"You see dancers sashay across the floor, and people say, 'That’s not hard' – but you are seeing the finished product."
He continued: "This week I think we have danced more than 30 miles.
"My max heart rate is 185 – when sprinting on a rugby pitch, and doing tackles – and I’ve been doing 170s this week. I hope people get a sense of how tough it is."