Hakeem Dawodu’s parents were separated when the UFC fighter was six. His Jamaican father was deported, and his Nigerian mother had to raise him singlehandedly.
A kid with a short fuse, Hakeem had several run-ins with the law before he decided to channel his anger into his fighting skills. Since joining UFC in 2017, Hakeem has won six fights and lost three.
His last fight came in September against Julian Erosa, which he lost via unanimous decision. And now he looks to redeem himself against Cub Swanson.
The 32-year-old will go head-to-head against Cub Swanson as the co-main event at The UFC Vegas 78 on Saturday. Both the fighters coming off disappointing losses are looking to prove themselves in the octagon ring.
Hakeem Dawodu Parents
Hakeem Dawodu’s parents have roots in two continents. His father comes from Jamaica, and his mother is Nigerian.
The three lived in Calgary, Canada, before his father was deported to Jamaica. Dawodu, with his mother, moved to North Haven, where her family resided.
The MMA fighter’s mom had him when she was only 14, and after her husband was deported to Jamaica, life became tougher for the young woman. Dawodu’s mother picked up several jobs to make ends meet.
In an interview, Hakeem said his mother did the best she could to raise him. His mother was part of the Jehovah’s Witnesses before she was kicked out of her house for falling pregnant.
His dad was 19 when he was born, and though the fighter doesn’t keep in touch with him, he knows he inherited his athletic gene. Hakeem’s father was a track athlete and good friends with Jamaican-Canadian sprinter Donavan Bailey.
But Hakeem says the athletic gene isn’t the only thing he inherited from his father; anger issues were another trait he acquired.
There were times Dawodu’s mother would send him to Jamaica to his dad so he could become disciplined. But the youngster would end up getting in brawls with kids over there, and there wasn’t stopping it.
On his Instagram handle, Hakeem hasn’t shared any pictures of his parents. He has shared a throwback family snap of when he was a kid. Last year, the fighter shared a series of pictures from his trip to Nigeria, clicking photos with his cousins and relatives.
Hakeem Dawodu And His Rough Childhood
Hakeem was only 12 when he had his first altercation with a police officer. A classmate’s father, a police officer, punched him in the face.
On the other occasion, a cop pulled him over, suspecting he had marijuana. The only noticeable thing they found in his car was his Muay Thai championship belt.
Dawodu was a short-tempered child, and the only way he dealt with trouble was with fist fights. When he was six, one of his teachers told him he should join taekwondo classes. And from there, he got the inkling he might be a good fighter.
One of Dawodu’s first run-ins with the law came at age 13. He was kept in juvenile hall for theft, and after that came a series of trips to juvenile detention.
At 14, he was once again sent to juvenile hall for selling marijuana. But at 17, he was charged with a serious crime that made him think about his lifestyle.
Hakeem was charged with aggravated home invasion with a weapon, and though he only did six months, the MMA fighter was kept under house arrest.
And though Hakeem didn’t have the best relationship with officers, the person who changed his life was his probation officer. The probation officer in charge of Hakeem told him if he tried martial arts, she would write it off as anger management.
Hakeem liked the deal, and the rest was history. After joining his first gym Mike Miles Muay Thai and Kickboxing in Calgary, Hakeem dedicated himself to his craft and earned success in it.