One individual’s grandfather is known as one of the greatest boxers and humanitarians of all time. He led the charge of transcending social justice and sports. This man is none other than the great Muhammad Ali. Being his grandson comes with a magnitude of pressure, but Biaggio Ali Walsh is handling it in a modest way.
Ali Walsh is a former standout running back who played football at UNLV and the University of California. After realizing professional football was not his long-term route, he became a full-time student of mixed martial arts. He has encompassed an amateur record of four wins and one defeat and is currently on a four-fight win streak as a lightweight. Since joining the PFL, he has knocked out every opponent the organization has put in front of him.
Ali Walsh shares many characteristics with his grandfather. He has swift hands that can put anyone to sleep and is making a name for himself as an even greater human being. When speaking with the rising star at his open workout at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York, he had tons of praise for the stars of his division and elaborated on his work in the community.
The composed nature and beaming smile on Ali Walsh’s face displayed three emotions he possesses: being humble, honest, and honored.
It often takes fighters a plethora of experience and practice to become honest with themselves. Ali Walsh, however, is new to the sport and holds a ton of gratitude for the life he lives.
He has gained recognition from many stars, including top-seeded PFL lightweight Clay Collard, who had a lot to say at PFL 6 media day, when asked about his dream fight.
The PFL “brought over that Ali Walsh kid. He’s Muhammad Ali’s grandson, so I’d like to fight him in either MMA or boxing. Welcome him to the big leagues.”
Martial arts culture typically features fighters sizing up dream opponents. Ali Walsh instead, took it as a compliment.
“I think I’m honored to be called out by someone with such experience like him. I’m an amateur. I’m basically a baby in this sport right now, so for him to be calling out me, or my brother, to me, that is a huge compliment. Because it tells me that someone of a high level like that sees me as high level one day, and that’s one of my goals – to be a high-level fighter. So, I’m honestly honored and complimented.”
Ali Walsh further picked Collard to win his pivotal semifinal fight against Shane Burgos at PFL 9. When asked further about his dream opponent, he remained optimistic.
“Maybe Clay. Yeah, that would be a really cool fight. His nickname is ‘Cassius’ too, so I feel like story-wise that would be pretty cool.”
Muhammad Ali’s original name is Cassius Clay, and both his grandson and Collard see each other as dream fights. Given Ali Walsh’s trajectory in this sport, that could be a possibility. Perhaps the fight could be for a PFL championship.
While being humble is something Ali Walsh has done well as an athlete, he is doing an even greater job demonstrating that outside of the sport.
“The reason I’m fighting is so that I can give back to charity. Help people that need it more than I do. As far as organizations, I’m not associated with any organization. All the charity stuff that I do is kind of just by hand. Before going to Atlanta [for a PFL 5 fight] on that Sunday, me and one of my teammates went and we bought like 20 bags at Dollar Tree and just put a bunch of water and snacks and goodies in there and just gave it to homeless people down in Vegas. That to me is my work of charity. I think like going and getting supplies, and putting it together, is more authentic and I’m actually putting work in. Yeah, charity – that’s the reason I fight.”
Along with helping the less fortunate, Ali Walsh is a family man. His younger brother Nico is an undefeated professional boxer with eight wins and a draw. He elaborated on the unique roles they play in each other’s fight camps.
“We support each other, you know? Obviously, he’s in a whole different sport. He trains at a certain gym, and I train at Xtreme Couture. We’re both just very supportive of each other. I think we don’t really talk that much fight stuff. It’s usually weight stuff because that’s the worst part. Cutting weight. I always vent to him like ‘Hey uh, do you think I’m good like I’m not too fat, right?’ Like stuff like that is what we kind of go back and forth on.”
Ali Walsh may have the weight of the world on his shoulders with the legacy people expect him to live up to. Despite that, he considers himself an ordinary human being, who like other fighters, despises cutting weight. He is doing extraordinary things, however, inside and outside the cage.
On Wednesday, August 23rd at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Ali Walsh looks to further his family legacy of winning humbly. He will open the main card of the PFL’s most high-profile event of the year so far, against Ed Davis in an amateur lightweight bout. Fans are in for a treat, as Ali Walsh is known to put on exciting performances like his grandfather.