Walker to Donate Strikeforce Purse to Charity

By Brian Knapp Jan 14, 2010
Herschel Walker plans to donate his entire purse from his professional mixed martial arts debut to charity.

Walker, the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner and 1992 Olympian, will meet Greg Nagy in a featured matchup at Strikeforce “Miami” on Jan. 30 at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. The soon-to-be 48-year-old will surrender his purse to Project Turnaround, a Dallas-based charity that aims to “rebuild communities from the inside out with a comprehensive, faith-based program designed to improve and enrich the lives of urban youth and families.”

“When I decided to fight, it wasn’t anything I was doing for money,” Walker said. “I love competition; I love to compete. It just so happens I was going to get paid. What I wanted to do was help someone else. I’ve been blessed in life through a lot of different things.”

One of college football’s greatest players, he led the University of Georgia to an undefeated season and national championship as a freshman in 1980 and won the Heisman Trophy two years later. He rushed for 5,259 yards and 49 touchdowns in 33 games as a collegian and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

After a stint in the now-defunct United States Football League, Walker spent 12 seasons in the NFL with the Cowboys, Vikings, Eagles and Giants. The Wrightsville, Ga., native still ranks eighth on the all-time list with 18,168 all-purpose yards, ahead of such hall of famers as Marcus Allen, Thurman Thomas, Tony Dorsett and Jim Brown.

A fifth-degree black belt in tae kwon do, Walker signed with Strikeforce in September.

“I’ve followed MMA for a long, long time,” Walker said. “I love it, and I want to help promote it. This is a wonderful sport. It’s a human chess game. How can a sport that combines all that -- jiu-jitsu, judo, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling -- not be one of the best sports out there?”

Walker has trained alongside elite fighters like Jon Fitch, Cain Velasquez, Mike Swick and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., for the last nine weeks. He will have spent some three months at the revered camp by the time he enters the cage for the first time.

“It’s tough, a lot tougher than I ever thought it would be,” Walker said. “Bob Cook, Javier Mendes, Dave Camarillo -- those guys have really been great coaches and mentors. And the guys there made me feel at home. I wanted them to get me ready to fight, and I told them if they didn’t feel like I could do this, I wouldn’t do it.

“All the things I learned in martial arts I had to forget about and start over again, learning the stand-up game, learning the ground game,” he added. “The kind of martial arts I learned first was great, but this is a totally different field.”

In Nagy, he faces a man who debuted in August 2009 and has since split two fights under the Rage in the Cage banner.

“Greg’s been fighting a little over a year. He’s a young guy, tough guy. It’s going to be a tough fight,” Walker said. “I wanted someone who had been fighting a little more than me. I wanted it to be a true MMA fight. A lot of other athletes who have gotten into this have been an embarrassment to themselves and to MMA. I feel pretty good about it. I’ve still got a couple weeks to go, but I’m going to be ready. Whenever I do anything, I prepare myself.”

Walker remains undecided on whether or not he will compete again after he faces Nagy in a matter of weeks. He turns 48 in March.

“I have to take it one step at a time,” Walker said. “I’m going to start with Jan. 30, do well and see how I feel, because I am a little older. I’m not trying to fool anyone. I’m not sure how my body’s going to react to this.”
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