Through the course of his 145-bout career, ONE Championship kickboxing star Dzhabar Askerov has proven his mettle as one of the most hard-nosed customers you could come across inside a ring.
The proud Dagestani martial artist has won multiple regional and national titles in both kickboxing and Muay Thai to cement himself as an elite world-class talent.
When you consider Askerov’s early disdain for the sport that has since become both his profession and his passion, it’s almost baffling what the 33-year-old has achieved.
It’s also a strong advertisement for the benefits of the age-old concept of ‘tough love’, which Askerov received in spades from his father as a youngster.
“He put a lot of pressure on his kids, me and my brother, to become professional sportsmen,” Askerov reveals.
“I didn’t really like it, but my dad wanted me to become a proper kickboxer and I respected my dad so much that I couldn’t say no.”
Fast-developing a love for football, Askerov was forced to put that to the side to indulge his father’s wishes.
“I was always upset that he didn’t let me play with the other kids but eventually I understood that he wanted the best for me,” said Askerov.
“But now I am thankful to my dad for forcing me to do it, even though I didn’t like it. He wanted me to learn discipline he wanted me to do something really important with my life.”
The approach may sound harsh by today’s standards, but there’s no denying the results. Askerov himself certainly doesn’t. And when his father passed away, his motivation to succeed only multiplied.
That will all culminate at ONE: Dreams of Gold in Bangkok on August 16, when Askerov will look to advance to the final of the ONE Featherweight World Grand Prix by overcoming dangerous French-Algerian opponent Samy Sana.
“That’s why I’m here right now. Everything I’ve achieved is because of my dad. That’s why I’m in the semi-final,” said Askerov.
Askerov made his promotional debut with a quarter-final win over German Enriko Kehl but will need to lift to another level to outlast Sana, who’s been in sublime form with recent wins over Armen Petrosyan and Thai great Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex.