By Jim Gehman
“I thought Charlotte was a great city,” Muhammad said. “I’m very fortunate to be drafted here, to a young organization that was building and could be a part of a city that was sort of on the rise in a part of the country that really had a lot of positive macroeconomic contributing factors.
“I love the city. It’s been labeled as a good place to raise a family. I have to agree with that. And at the time, I was starting a young family, as well.”
He was also starting what would be an incredible gridiron career. A two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, Muhammad spent 14 seasons [1996-2009] in the NFL, 11 with the Panthers and three with the Chicago Bears, helping both teams reach a Super Bowl. What makes him most proud of his football success?
“I would say coming from a small town and only really starting one year of college football and being able to play for 14 years and do some pretty exciting things,” Muhammad said. “I was a running back and a linebacker (in high school) so it was a huge learning curve when I got to college and played receiver. I’m probably most proud of just being able to convert over to a new position and learn it and be successful at it.”
Also successful at his second career, Muhammad is a founder and managing partner at Axum Capital Partners in Charlotte.
“We’re a pretty standard private equity fund. We basically invest in the food and beverage space and early childhood education,” Muhammad said. “I think if you wanted to describe what we do in private equity, we just take small to midcap companies and we invest capital resources. We bring relationships with the goal to take the company from one stage, grow that company and then take it back to market to sell. That’s our focus.”
Muhammad sees similarities between his past days on a playing field and his present days in a business office.
“I would say throughout my NFL career, being a captain for multiple years and multiple Super Bowl teams, having to manage people, personalities; it was impeccable to the business world,” Muhammad said. “Understanding how to research and map out a strategy, put a game plan together, those are things that you do in business and football.
“And really just developing a great team. Having a great group of people understanding that we all bring different qualities to the partnership and collectively, it’s those individual qualities that make the team what it is.”
Muhammad and his wife, Christa, live in the Charlotte area and have six children. Aside from Axum, he is also the president of the M2 Foundation for Kids.
“We run a basketball organization and there’s an educational component to it,” Muhammad said. “We help young ladies get scholarships to schools. The whole emphasis is just developing young people physically, educationally, emotionally and exposing them to things they wouldn’t otherwise have exposure to.”