Sunday, January 23, 2022

Dave Camarillo Discusses Training Herschel Walker

Great post from Dave Camarillo, who trained Walker for his MMA debut at The American Kickboxing Academy, on the UG:


At first I didn’t know who he was. I am not a fan of American football and had heard his name years ago but couldn’t place it. After a few days I started remembering that he played for the NFL. This came to me not because I had ever seen him on tv but because I used to play the video game Tecmo Bowl for Nintendo. I remember hearing his name for an opposing team. So I guess he was a good player.

After hearing about his accomplishments I started getting excited to work with him. But I naturally had a few questions about the 47-year-old athlete that all of a sudden wanted to fight.


What is his martial arts experience? Why does he want to fight? Is this going to be a waste of time?

I will answer these by explaining the man behind some of the most recent and exciting news to hit the MMA scene.


When Herschel finally came into the gym I was curious as to what he could do. I heard he was a “great athlete” but I have heard that before. Many times “great athletes” become a quick snack to aspiring fighters who are hungry to win.

I had to see for myself. And when I finally did, I was not impressed. I was however impressed with his attributes but not his performance as a fighter. I talked to the other coaches and told them that we have a lot of work to do. At that time we were pretty much starting from scratch. Even though I had my doubts, I was excited to get to work. I felt that if I could get him to win on the ground in the little time that I had, I could do anything.


It took a while for me to realize why this guy wanted to fight. There are many factors that go into a successful fighter. But easily the most important is their attitude.

I can’t read minds. And I don’t necessarily always believe what fighters tell me face-to-face. And in Herschel’s case I was a little too respectful towards his status as a star athlete to come out and ask him why he was here.

So I needed to see it. And in the beginning he showed me. He immediately got to work. He didn’t show up on time, he showed up early. He didn’t leave after practice; he left late. He didn’t ask me why he should put on a gi if he was going to fight without one; he just wore it. He didn’t question us with some overgrown ego. He just did. He just did!

One day a few weeks before his fight he impressed me yet again.

He came in and sparred with one of our amateurs. And that amateur started talking trash to Herschel. In a taunting tone he said, “come on old man, let me see what you got!” And Herschel showed him. The first strike was a hard one, but it was nothing compared to the straight right that followed. I stood in awe as this respectful 47-year-old man, who has never fought in his life, continued to beat the hell out of the guy. And he did it with fire in his eyes.

He wasn’t at AKA to prove himself. He didn’t start training with us to widen his fame. He wasn’t there as a joke or to waste our time. He was there to learn and compete. He is a competitor. And it doesn’t matter what the game. Using his words, “he has a job to do, and he is going to do it!”

At that moment I realized the “why”.


There are a lot of people who think it is ridiculous to allow Herschel Walker to fight in MMA. They say he is too old. They say he shouldn’t get special attention. They say that it brings disrespect to our sport. Threw my years as an Elite MMA Coach I have realized something that many haven’t. MMA is not a sport. It is entertainment. Brock Lesnar got a title shot after a 1-1 MMA record. Dan Hardy is fighting GSP after 4 victories in the UFC. And yes, Herschel Walker makes his pro debut on National and international television. His fight was seen on ESPN, CNN and had almost 200,000 views on youtube 2 days after the fight.

Herschel Walker inspires. His will has given me new life as a coach. He has been a tremendous influence to his team at AKA and has brought us the fire we need to believe in what we are doing. In the short time I have had with him he has become one of my favorite fighters to work with. He has a great respect for our art and shows that in the gym, in front of the camera and in the cage. For him it is not a game of making someone look bad. It is not a game of increasing his popularity. It is simply a game to win.

I thank Herschel Walker for reminding me what matters in life; and for sharing his respect and honor with the MMA community.

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