Interview: Jabari Shakur

I will go to where ever the fight is and I will shock the world”

Jabari “The817Badboy” Shakur

Interview By: Eric Hofstetter
Photo By: Justin Trapp (AthletePortraits.com)

It is one thing to set a goal. It is another to live and achieve one. Jabari Shakur is walking proof that triumphing over one of life’s hurdles can lead to something greater.

I caught up with Jabari to get to know this fresh amateur fighter before he makes his debut on July 29th in Houston, Texas.

TCD: Tell us a little bit about yourself Jabari. How did you get started in MMA?

Jabari Shakur: September or October of last year, I decided that I needed to lose some weight and I chose doing MMA instead of getting a personal trainer. I enjoyed sparring a lot and it came to a point to where I just wanted to fight competitively.

I’m 32 and the gym that I first started at needed a big guy to spar with one of their big guys, who happened to be getting ready for a fight in a week or two. I stepped up, sparred with him, and held my own. I think that is where I really got hooked in getting into this.

Well, I left that gym that I was at in November, and joined Texas Fight Syndicate.

TCD: So you had no background, such as wrestling or karate or etc, at all in fighting before getting started?

Jabari: None whatsoever, well besides your normal school or neighborhood fights. I’ve never wrestled, boxed, anything at all when it comes to training for a fight.

TCD: What would you say was the first discipline within this sport that grabbed your attention?

Jabari: Most definitely striking, because it came more natural to me. I feel that I am pretty strong and good with my hands.

However, I really am impressed and interested in jiu-jitsu. Especially when I see little guys tap out and submit much larger guys. I always find that fun to watch happen.

TCD: Have you ever been submitted, in training of course, by someone that is smaller than you?

Jabari: I’m not gonna lie, in the beginning I did. I’ll be the first one to admit that I was frustrated a ton by getting submitted by little 135 lbs and 145 lbs men. But now that doesn’t happen anymore. [Laughs]

I respect everyone though that has these skills

TCD: Backing up a little bit, you said you started doing MMA to lose weight. How much weight did you lose and what weight class do you fight at now?

Jabari: I will be fighting at 205, but when I started training I weighed 278 lbs.

TCD: Good Lord.

Jabari: Yeah, I went from 278 lbs in November 2010 to 220 lbs in March of 2011. I will be fighting at 205. So the weigh-in that I will have for my upcoming match in July, will be my first time weighing 205 lbs since I was about 19 years old. Remember I am 32 years old now.

TCD: Well congrats to what you have already accomplished.

Jabari: My coaches make us do a ton of cardio in our training. Burt McDonald, my head coach and owner of the TFS, push me beyond where I can go in my cardio every single day.

This has all been a blessing to me, as a guy that was just trying to lose weight, relieve stress, be healthy and live longer. I knew nothing about fighting, but now fast forward 7 months later, I cannot imagine myself not fighting. I look forward to this every day.

TCD: What would be the next big breakthrough would be for you?

Jabari: To actually get in there fight. My first fight got cancelled on me… I worked my butt off for that fight. I can’t really tell you how frustrated I was, but Colin Cantrell worked with me hard to try and find me another fight. We have one scheduled now for July 29th. My dream now is to fight, I will go to where ever the fight is and I will shock the world.

TCD: Who is match against?

Jabari: Micah Williams. I don’t know much about him, except for the fact that he is 6’5”. It doesn’t matter to me though, I just want to fight. I’m not old, but I’m not young either. I just want to get in there and fight. You could put a bear across me that weighing 205 lbs, I’ll get in there with him.

TCD: HA!

Jabari: You think I am exaggerating, but I am not. Put whoever you want in there with me at 205, I’ll fight them. I’ve put a lot of things in my life in behind me actually getting in there and fighting. I want to do this so bad. I cannot wait to get in there in that cage. I’ve put in the work… I’m ready.

TCD: Tell us how you got your nickname, “The817BadBoy”.

Jabari: Well 817 is the area code that I am from. I will never claim that I am the biggest or most badass guy in to ever enter the cage, or know the most, but one thing I have in me is a ton of heart put into this, I am 100% dedicated. Whoever is across from he is going to have their worked cut out for them.

We aren’t going to need any judges, because any match I am going to be in is going to be rough, tough, and I am going to be as brutal as possible.

TCD: Is there anyone want to thank?

Jabari: I would like to give thanks to all of my coaches and trainers. Coach Burt McDonald, he has been the biggest impact on me being where am I today, and also his wife Tina. They both treat me like family. Jon Lora, for putting my ground game together. Also, my personal trainer Kevin Mathis Finally, my longtime friend Durwyn Lamb for helping me with my stand up for this fight.

I also want to thank my family. Without them I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing.

TCD: Awesome interview Jabari. Thank you for your time and best of luck in your match.

Jabari: Thank you!