Thanks to the love and support of his dad, Bojan Veličković, has solidified his place as one of the best fighters in Europe, and while his father is no longer with us, he’ll be at the forefront of his son’s mind when he competes in the finale of the Oktagon Tisport Gamechanger on Friday night.
Blessed with a sublime jiu-jitsu game and an unrelenting will to win, the Serbian has torn through the greatest fighters in the sport to earn his chance at a whopping €300,000 at the O2 Arena in Prague on December 29.
Showcasing heart, grit and determination, Veličković has overcome every hurdle in his way. In this tournament alone, he’s given fans a moment they’ll never forget when he survived a double knockdown against Ion Surdu, a war of the likes of which we’d never previously seen against Christian Jungwirth and an astonishing upset KO over David Kozma.
And in a historic event in the Czech capital, the legend will look to go one step further in beating fellow UFC veteran, Andreas Michailidis, to prove himself as the top dog in the welterweight division.
However, Veličković’s journey started long before he ever set foot in the Oktagon cage, learning the ropes from his beloved father back in his homeland.
Bojan Veličković talks about the special relationship he shared with his dad ahead of Oktagon 51
On September 9, 2022, Veličković tragically lost his dad, Dušan — a man who inspired him to become the warrior Oktagon fans know and love. The pair adored one another, forging a bond that tied them together as best friends as well as father and son.
Through the guidance of his mentor, Veličković developed into an admirable man, who serves as a beacon of hope to the children he teaches at Easton Training Centre in Denver, Colorado, USA, often imparting Dušan’s words of wisdom, reminding the kids that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.
In a testament to the love he had for his son, the former military man did everything in his power to bring Bojan closer to God while laying the foundations that made him the fighter he is today. And it’s fair to say, he did a fantastic job.
In an exclusive interview with Sporf, Veličković said: “My dad was a special person. We definitely had our ups and downs in our relationship. My mum and dad divorced when I was 11, and at that time, I hated him. But when I grew up and realised what caused the friction between Mum and Dad, I started to understand him, and I forgave him for some of the things that seemed terrible to me when the divorce happened. I gave him a little bit more love, and we deepened our relationship.”
He continued: “We became close friends as I started getting into martial arts, and I began to understand what he did when he was around my age because he was in the police special forces and he was doing martial arts too. I decided to understand some of the decisions that he made and the way he did it. He gave me a lot of advice, support and confidence.
“We did a lot of work on spiritual and mental preparation. He’s somebody who got me deeply into the Christian Orthodox religion, and he started taking me with him to monasteries and introduced me to some of his spiritual mentors, monks, and priests. Our relationship goes very deep, and even though he left in the physical body, he’s still strongly with me, spiritually.
“My relationship with him is definitely something that keeps me grounded and spiritually strong. He helps me through everyday struggles, and even though training camp can be really hard, physically and mentally, the roots that he instilled in me, is something that helps me every day.”
And while he won’t be at Oktagon 51 in the flesh, Veličković knows that when he makes his way to the cage, his father will be looking down with a beaming smile across his face.
Featured Image Credit: Bojan Veličković / Oktagon MMA