Written by Staff Writer
Nico Ali Walsh graces the roll of light heavyweight champion and heavyweight champion boxer– as recognized by the International Boxing Federation. He currently fights for Macau based Chinese Wuhan Heokai. CNN’s Esha Dey take a look into the life of the American boxer and into the campaign for his return to the US.
American Heavyweight boxer Nico Ali Walsh, has a great story and even greater love for his family.
After much searching and lobbying, his grandfather Muhammad Ali graciously gave him a life-changing opportunity.
Walsh’s fight for a second life began when his body was diagnosed with cancer. Now his love and passion is to fight his way back to the United States where he has left everything behind, and where he missed so much from his life that he even missed his wedding.
WATCH: My Life With Muhammad Ali
Ali, a former boxer and good friend of the legendary boxing champ, was at the helm when he moved Nico from his foreign home country, England, to Macau in order to make him “eligible” for a US visa.
But despite traveling hundreds of miles away from his wife and children to China, Muhammad Ali was unable to stay with his family and didn’t get to make the ultimate sacrifice. He died from Parkinson’s disease.
But life as a boxing champion is not all heartache, it is a sporting art that yields enormous rewards.
Click to watch his success story
‘Very exciting and especially for the family’
“Muhammad Ali was very supportive when my father was competing and I fought for the world championship and my first title,” the 34-year-old Walsh says.
Walsh with his grandfather Muhammad Ali who passed away last year after a battle with Parkinson’s disease. Courtesy Ali Walsh
“It was very exciting for the family, for everyone,” he said. “That’s the part I won’t forget and I’ve done everything I can to take the next step forward to achieve that in boxing.”
Walsh received the first leg of his achievement when he became the first of his family to compete at an Olympic Games in 2016, where he took home a silver medal.
But he then became an athlete-turned-activist after a televised interview with Vice President Joe Biden, in which the two discussed the difficulties that some veterans face following their retirement from the military.
He organized a chance for him to travel to the United States to see the struggles the veterans face as they struggle to return to society.
Nico Ali Walsh and Vice President Joe Biden after their first meeting, at which the American heavyweight boxer brought a boxing glove to Biden for his grandchildren. Courtesy Nico Ali Walsh
“When I got to the US that was the moment I realized that I needed to do something,” Walsh explained. “I called my management team and I’m like, let’s try to get my visa. I’m sorry, but there is not a lot of avenues for us over here.”
Ali walked him through the US immigration process and managed to gain permission for him to work and go back to the US through various organizations that do “forgotten” countries.
Walsh has been able to win an open spot at the Martial Arts Academy in Macau, but he will first travel back to the US to go through the application process.