Father’s Day is just around the corner. It’s that one day in the entire year when we can all celebrate the amazing men in our lives and the contribution of every father in his family.
Fathers represent wisdom and strength. They are the rock on which every family foundation is built upon. Great fathers make countless sacrifices for their children, their spouses, giving up time and sometimes personal health to make sure that ends meet and all needs are provided. In many ways, fathers are our superheroes.
In martial arts especially, there are a handful of fathers who have made incredible sacrifices to ensure that their children are raised in a positive, loving environment, and that they become the best people they can be. These astounding dads passed on their knowledge of martial arts to their sons and daughters, allowing them to reach their full potential as athletes and as human beings.
We’ve come up with a shortlist of martial arts dads who have raised phenomenal athletes. This weekend, we celebrate their lives. Today, Evolve Daily shares five amazing martial arts dads to honor on Father’s Day.
1) Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov
Born in 1962 in the village of Sildi, Tsumadinsky District, Dagestan, Russia, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was a former athlete and coach. Like many in Dagestan, he began his sporting career as a freestyle wrestler. After serving in the Soviet Army, Nurmagomedov picked up judo and sambo, which he taught to his two sons Magomed and Khabib, and daughter Amina.
Early in his career, Nurmagomedov coached his brother Nurmagomed, who ended up winning the World Sambo Championship for Ukraine’s national team in 1992. He built a total of 18 world champions when it was all said and done. But perhaps the most famous athlete he trained was his son Khabib, who later on became the undefeated and undisputed UFC Lightweight World Champion, and mixed martial arts legend.
Sadly, Nurmagomedov contracted COVID-19 in April of 2020 and was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia caused by the coronavirus. His condition worsened as weeks went by. On July 3, 2020, Nurmagomedov passed away at the age of 57.
Months later, Khabib successfully defended his UFC title, beating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. Khabib announced his retirement in the Octagon to honor his late father.
2) Floyd Mayweather Sr.
Multiple-division boxing world champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. is considered among the most elite in the history of the sport. But behind Mayweather’s immense success and stellar career is the man who taught him everything he knows, Floyd Mayweather Sr.
Floyd Sr. is a former professional boxer himself and competed in his prime during the 1970s and 1980s. He was known for his defensive abilities and fight strategies, and made popular the “Mayweather style of fighting” featuring the infamous shoulder roll defense which he taught to all of his students.
Floyd Sr. and his brother, Mayweather’s late uncle Roger, both trained “Money” to become the best fighter he could be. As a result, his son became the richest boxer in history, and retired a legend, undefeated at 50 wins with no losses.
Other fighters Floyd Sr. trained throughout his coaching career include light heavyweight Chad Dawson, former two-division champion Joan Guzmán, women’s champion Laila Ali, the legendary Oscar De La Hoya, and former junior welterweight champion Ricky “Hitman” Hatton.
3) Helio Gracie
When you hear the words Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the name Gracie immediately comes to mind. The Gracie family lineage is dotted with world-class fighters and grapplers. They are, in fact, the founders of the discipline, which has become one of the most popular martial arts in the world.
Today, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is practiced by thousands of people and has a solid community dedicated to keeping the Gracie tradition alive. It is also one of the most prominent base disciplines in mixed martial arts.
Helio Gracie, one of the patriarchs of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is the father to a handful of martial arts legends, namely Rickson, Royler, Rorion, Royce, and Relson — all of whom have their own place in history. In fact, Helio’s son Royce is credited as a pioneer of mixed martial arts and is one of the first UFC fighters in the promotion.
Simply put, if it weren’t for Helio, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and even MMA would perhaps not exist today.
4) Ken Lee
Ken Lee is the man behind sibling ONE Championship world champions Angela “Unstoppable” Lee and Christian “The Warrior” Lee, as well as teenage mixed martial arts prodigy Victoria Lee. Angela is, of course, the reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion, while Christian is ONE Championship’s Lightweight king.
Ken is an elite-level martial artist and coach, and is highly adept in various martial arts disciplines. He has coached since 1996 and holds black belts of different degrees in Pankration, Taekwondo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, among other disciplines.
Together with fellow martial artist, his wife Jewelz Lee, Ken began teaching martial arts to all of his children as soon as they were old enough to walk. Today, the Lee fighting family is a collection of martial arts world champions in various disciplines.
Angela and Christian have both reached unprecedented heights in the ONE Championship Circle. Their youngest siblings, Victoria and Adrian, are not far behind, and it’s all thanks to father Ken, who considers himself a dad first and a coach second.
5) Randy Couture
UFC pioneer Randy “The Natural” Couture is an undisputed legend of the sport of mixed martial arts. A five-time MMA world champion across two weight divisions, Randy is one of the most recognizable faces in the sport’s history.
Over his career, Randy has defeated the likes of Maurice Smith, Kevin Randleman, Vitor Belfort, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia, Gabriel Gonzaga, Brandon Vera, and Mark Coleman, to name a few.
Today, he owns a clothing line, Xtreme Couture gym, and is an action movie star who has appeared in several A-list films, most famously “The Expendables” franchise.
Randy’s son, Bellator lightweight contender and former UFC star Ryan Couture is a solid fighter in his own right. Although not as prominent and as accomplished as his dad, Ryan has still put in some great work as a professional, and currently has a 12-6 record.
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