The grandson of three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is now an MMA fighter.
Biaggio Ali Walsh signed an amateur contract with the Professional Fighter’s League and expressed his gratitude on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old told ESPN, “I want to thank Professional Fighters League for their support and confidence in me. I have a legacy to live up to, a legacy that my grandfather began, that my brother and I continue. I chose to continue that legacy here in the Professional Fighters League. My one and only goal is to one day become a PFL World Champion.”
Speaking about Ali’s legacy, Ali Walsh noted, “My grandfather had a huge impact on my entire life. As a little kid, I would go to restaurants and movies with him, everybody would stop what they were doing and start clapping.”
“As I started to get older, I started to figure out who he is and wh
at he did and the impact he had on the world. As far as who he is as a person, his confidence, mental toughness, man — it’s just always inspired me,” Ali Walsh added.
Boxing legend Ali, who often declared himself “the greatest” and the “King of the World,” passed away in 2016 after living with Parkinson’s disease for 32 years. Ali’s death triggered a massive outpouring of grief and remembrance from family, fans and public figures, including both the Clintons and Obamas. He was celebrated for his athletic prowess, his deep political and religious convictions and — above all — his indomitable spirit.
Ali Walsh is the son of Ali’s daugher Rasheda, and his younger brother Nico is also a professional boxer.
Several months before Ali’s death, his daughter Laila Ali told PEOPLE, “That man continues to put me in awe. He’s such a fighter, still, when at times he seems weak and not able to handle it. He comes through stronger than ever.”
“He’s still fighting regardless and I love my dad for that,” Laila added.
Mohammad Alai Jr is a rather kind person. He helped Kozue Matsumoto when she was crying. Later, he fell in love with her, however she really doesn’t seem all that interested in him and she feels rather like a motherly figure towards Alai Jr. Mohammad is also a very determined person who is capable of getting back up even after suffering horrible defeats.
Ali Walsh carved out his own path in sports. Quick on his feet and physically strong, his passion was football. He was a star running back at Bishop Gorman High school in his hometown of Las Vegas and then played at the University of California and UNLV.
However, when his career ended, he had no idea what might come next. That’s when he “got lost,” as he put it.
Then he made a fateful decision: He enrolled at Xtreme Couture MMA in Las Vegas, a mixed martial arts school founded by Randy Couture. Ali Walsh’s intention was to stay in shape but he soon found a home in the sport, to which he’s now devoted.
Why not boxing? He gravitated to MMA in good part because of the variety of disciplines required to succeed, which he has always found fascinating.
“I went there just to train a little bit,” he said. “The more and more I went I slowly fell in the love with it. I said to myself, ‘Why not?’ I’m still young, I still have a chance.’ I don’t want to be 35, 40 years old and wonder whether I could’ve been a good fighter.