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After a dismal Octagon debut that saw him falling into the hands of Danny Henry, Canadian prospect Hakeem Dawodu bounced back with a decision victory over Austin Arnett. He did outwork his opponent with his superior standup, but “Mean Hakeem” is still looking for a huge knockout, the kind that got him quite a following at World Series of Fighting.
Come Dec. 8, expect Dawodu to step on the gas as he mixes it up with Kyle Bochniak in front of his home fans at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As he prepares for this pivotal bout, here are five things you might not know about this rising star.
1. He was raised by a single mother.Dawodu’s story is one that can inspire other people. His mother is a Nigerian native who gave birth to him at about 14 or 15. His father, a Jamaican, was deported back to his home country when Dawodu was only six years-old. The young “Mean Hakeem” saw how difficult it was for her mother to raise a child on her own. That’s when he learned to take care of himself.
2. He was placed in juvenile detention multiple times.As a child prone to violent outbursts, Dawodu found himself in juvenile detention on multiple occasions. He was in and out of the detention center until he was 18, and his longest stretch inside was six months. Dawodu claimed he was an angry kid who was always ready to trade fists with anyone, but deep inside, he knew he wanted to change his ways and do something different. Ultimately, martial arts became his way out of a difficult childhood.
3. He initially trained kickboxing as a legal requirement.Dawodu’s probation program required him to attend anger management sessions, something he felt wouldn’t help him enough. His probation officer then suggested that he try kickboxing. Dawodu loved it, and his probation officer made a pact with him so that training would be part of his requirements. So, young Dawodu needed to complete 40 hours of training to avoid future stays in juvenile detention. Thanks to his coach Mike Miles, he learned the value of respect and how to control his emotions so he won’t get into trouble.
4. As a child, he was inspired by many things, including ‘Dragonball Z.’Despite all the troubles, Dawodu remained a kid who liked watching cartoons. One of his favorites was the Japanese import, “Dragonball Z,” with a lead character who trained martial arts to battle evil. This inspired him to make martial arts a part of his life. He then started taking up taekwondo and boxing. But none of them fueled his fire while calming his anger better than kickboxing, which came at an opportune time in his young life. Dawodu went on to fight professionally in kickboxing, earning titles here and there and compiling a record of 42-4.
5. He only fought in one promotion before joining the UFC.It was announced in November of last year that Dawodu had inked a four-fight deal with the world’s biggest promotion. While he has been impressive with his MMA career, he remained a relative unknown especially to American fans and those that don’t follow other promotions. But as they may know by now, Dawodu started his professional career with World Series of Fighting, piling up an unblemished record of 7-0, with 1 draw.
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