Abdulazeez trains three to five days a week at Chattanooga Fight Factory, a mixed-martial arts gym, for more than a year. Each evening at 6 p.m., Abdulazeez unfurls his prayer rug in the gym’s offices to conduct evening prayers. He also hangs out with his trainer and other friends at local restaurants and bars to watch mixed martial art matches. Trainer:
You could see he was trying to become more Americanized. But his family disapproved [of the fighting].
His trainer says that Abdulazeez had several friends at the gym, but one in particular, a former Chattanooga police officer, would constantly exhort militant Islamic views and threatened anyone who bad-mouthed the faith. The man was the one who introduced Abdulazeez to the Fight Factory and became the young fighter’s closest mentor.