As a young boy, Khan was reminded daily by his father on the importance of maintaining a bright outlook.
“My dad was always a positive person. Whenever I have a bad day, I always remember him telling me to end it on a positive note,” the 25-year-old Evolve representative says.
“Bad things happen, you just have to learn and grow from it. He made sure I understood that every day.”
Tajudeen frequently extolled the values of a positive mindset.
In fact, the family patriarch served as a motivational figure to both the lightweight contender and his brother.
“My dad is firm, but fair. I received his praise if I did well. When I didn’t perform to my best, he wouldn’t chastise me, but he would let me know what I could do better,” Khan explains.
“His encouragement really helped my confidence, and I learned how to apply that positive mindset to everything I did.”
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Tajudeen’s steadying presence was further amplified during his son’s teenage years.
The Singaporean athlete was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder which causes his muscles to tic and twitch involuntarily. Because of his condition, Khan’s classmates regularly picked on him.
“People would always make fun of me. I remember coming home from school crying and asking [my dad], ‘What’s wrong with me?’ But my father never once let me feel like I was different from anybody else,” the lightweight star reveals.
“He told me in life, it’s normal for everyone to struggle. These are problems we all face, and that it was up to me to make the best out of my situation.”
Influenced by his father’s bright outlook on life, Khan changed his perspective and began to embrace his struggles as challenges.
“He never wanted me to make an excuse,” the athlete continues. “I started to view my condition as something that I needed to overcome. That process is what spawned my competitiveness, and it has kept me going during these tough moments.”
Khan’s interest in Muay Thai took on greater meaning when he discovered that his training helped him to better cope with Tourette Syndrome.
Encouraged by his changes, Tajudeen sent his son to Louisiana, USA to attend high school. While living in “The Pelican State,” he trained in mixed martial arts and even made his professional debut at a local show in February 2014.
Still, moving from the comforts of home in Asia to a new region in North America was a life-altering decision and a huge weight to place upon the shoulders of a teenager. However, it turned Khan into a stronger individual.
“It was challenging, but it was also one of the greatest periods of growth for me. I was forced to be independent in a foreign country,” he says.
“The positive lessons I took from my father – learning how to deal with uncomfortable situations and being optimistic in hard times – were the things that helped me grow the most.”
That positive reinforcement continues to impact Khan today, but in a new way.
The lightweight star is using the lessons he learned from his lifelong role model to conquer a new challenge – being a father to his 11-month old baby boy, Leonel.
“My father never hit or verbally abused me. He knew how to communicate positively, and that’s one thing I want to carry on between me and my son,” the Singaporean martial arts hero explains.
“There was no negativity in the household because my dad was always lifting everybody up. He took on that responsibility even when things did not go well for him.”
Now that Khan has added motivation whenever he competes, his upcoming tilt with Eto presents another opportunity to both reward his dad’s faith in him and also set an example for his own son.
“The biggest thing [my father] ever wanted for me was to stick to something and see it through,” the Evolve representative says. “He is the reason why I continue to be positive, and I’m going to make him proud.”