When Raheem Payton first met HHCF founder Adisa Banjoko, he weighed more than 265 lbs. After telling Adisa that he wanted to be in MMA and Jiu Jitsu, Adisa gave him a diet plan and a workout regimen. In less than a year Raheem returned to school at 190 lbs and Adisa became his jiu jitsu instructor on the condition that Raheem choose non-violence as a way of life. Raheem kept his word . Beyond that, Adisa made sure that Raheem kept school in focus above all else. Here is an interview on one of the HHCF ‘s shining stars.
HHCF: When did you first learn about Hip-Hop Chess Federation?
Raheem Payton : I first learned about HHCF in 2008 while attending John O’Connell H.S.
HHCF: What kind of things did Adisa Banjoko do to help you learn more about chess, martial arts, or life?
RP: Adisa has helped me with all three. The chess aspect, I was taught the basic movements and how to think before I act. With martial arts I gained a great deal of discipline and self-control along with physical health benefits. In life Adisa has been not just a great mentor but a great friend. He has helped me learn to take steps in life which is making me become a better person.
HHCF: Are there any particular stories you remember from your time working with him or watching him work with other students?
RP : There’s really too many to count. It seemed like every day I was coming to Adisa for advice on how to deal with my life issues. But one in particular I really remember was when I would be going through rough patches with my parents he would share his stories about how he dealt with similar situations and reassured me that everything would work itself out in time and to be completely honest it did.
HHCF: What do you think you will remember most about working with HHCF?
RP : What I really enjoy is the reality that comes with HHCF. Everything that people read about is real people and everyday struggles in life with positive ways to cope.
HHCF: How important was it to Adisa that you graduated?
RP: I can really answer that question with one word dedication. If I had to think of anyone who was going to get on me about graduation it would be Adisa. He was always the person who made sure I was going to be successful.
HHCF: If a kid asked you why they should word with Adisa Banjoko and the Hip-Hop Chess Federation what would you tell them?
RP: Adisa has so much knowledge to share and I believe not only children can learn from him I know many adults that need to be where he is as a leader. He doesn’t sugar coat anything, you can really hear the truth in his words.
HHCF: Any last words?
RP: Adisa Banjoko is not only a close friend of mine he’s a father figure to me. I learn from him and I know a lot of people feel the same way. I was very lucky to come across someone that has pushed me time and time again to always push for my dreams.
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