Okonkwo is a wealthy and respected warrior of the Umuofia clan, a lower Nigerian tribe that is part of a consortium of nine connected villages, including Okonkwo's village, Iguedo.
In his youth, he was able to prove himself as one of the fiercest by beating Amalinze, the Cat in a wrestling contest. The Cat had been undeafeated for seven years until Okonkwo won over him which as well give honor to his village.
His father was cowardice, lazy, and unsuccessful. However, he is completely unlike his now deceased father, Unoka, who feared the sight of blood and was always borrowing and losing money. During those times, it then caused his wife and children be often hungry.