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Damir Hadzovic reflects on escaping Bosnian War: ‘I’ve seen houses burning, the distress in my parents’

Damir Hadzovic opens up about fleeing Bosnia with his family and how his experiences growing up shaped him into the fighter he is today.

Damir Hadzovic and his family fled the Bosnian War when he was a child, but he never let his circumstances define him for the worse.

“It was crazy because I was six-years-old, I remember many things. I remember traveling on the bus, all these countries we went through to get to Denmark,” he told Bloody Elbow ahead of his bout at UFC Stockholm. “We also lived in Macedonia. We took crazy routes to Denmark on the bus. Through Poland, Ukraine and over the seas to Denmark. Maybe it’s what made me tough, I don’t know. For me, fighting comes relatively easy. Maybe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

The Bosnian War took place between April 6 1992 and Dec 14 1995. His family left their home as soon as possible. Their long road led them to Denmark and Hadzovic’s mother provided a phenomenal home for her children. “Even though I came as a refugee, my mother always did what a mother does best. She gave me the best childhood I could have ever had and I’m forever grateful for that. I don’t have any bad memories,” he reminisced. “I had a good, happy childhood. So thanks to the Danish refugee centers. The workers did an amazing job. I’m a happy man.”

“My mother says I was just a happy kid walking around, but I saw the machine guns, rifles. I’ve seen houses burning, I’ve seen the distress in my parents,” Hadzovic reflected.

One person who did not join the family on their travels was Hadzovic’s father. “My dad didn’t even go [with us.] He was in the Bosnian War for four years and then he came to Denmark in ‘96 after the war. It was crazy, it was crazy times,” he said. “Every Wednesday we could make a call — at about eight o’clock in the evening — and if my dad picked up the radio then we knew he was alive. Every week we found out like that. It was crazy times. I remember it, but I understand it more now... Maybe I suppressed it, but I don’t have any traumas or anything. I’m good.”

These days, Hadzovic is flexing his own parental skills. The 32-year-old fighter welcomed a baby girl earlier in May. His wife even got their newborn child some “UFC and Chill” apparel.

Hadzovic (13-4) fights Christos Giagos (16-7) at UFC Stockholm on Saturday, June 1. The event is headlined by a light-heavyweight title clash between Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Smith.

Timestamps below for the video above.

1:05 - Injury-free fight camp
1:55 - Being a new father
4:02 - Fleeing the Bosnian War
6:36 - UFC Stockholm fight
8:35 - Marcin Held highlight KO
9:40 - Split-second decisions vs. instincts
10:53 - Damir WAS NEVER a bodybuilder
11:55 - Sparring with an elephant
13:15 - Predicting a second-round TKO

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