Behind the Swagger of ‘King Mo’

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On the surface, he’s all flash. He wears a robe and a crown, movie star sunglasses, and meticulously plans his pre-fight cage entrance and post-fight celebration. But behind the swagger of “King Mo” is Muhammed Lawal, a thoughtful and bright man with a perpetual underdog mentality and a burning drive to succeed. How else can you explain what he’s accomplished in life?

Lawal, after all, didn’t start wrestling until he was 16 years old, in the second semester of his sophomore year in high school. Yet two years later, he won a Texas state championship. Then, he earned a college scholarship, became a collegiate All-American and national champion before he moved on to the U.S. national team, became world-ranked, and eventually transitioned into MMA, where he’s a perfect 6-0.

In the rough-and-tumble worlds the Strikeforce light-heavyweight No. 1 contender has inhabited, those successes did not come through flash, but grit.

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