Steve “Put em’ to Sleep Walker” is now 7-0 with his most recent victory at Lion Fight 53 on March 30, 2019, in Las Vegas with an amazing TKO against Ferdaous. I had the opportunity to spar and talk on the mat with the North American Cruiserweight Champion weeks before the bout. Conquering inside and outside the ring with the support of his Hard Knocks family, Steve Walker carries himself with humility and thankfulness despite daily challenges, training for major fights, and the frightening possibility of being deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I opened up our conversation by asking what got him into Muay Thai:
Steve: “ Well, truth be told, I was incarcerated for 5 years in Plymouth. I came out of jail in 2010 and a friend of mine named Levi, I think he trains at Wai Kru at the time, he was telling me about this MMA and I was like, ‘What the hell is MMA?’
After Levi explained that no one is playing basketball anymore but rather are exploring Mixed Martial Arts.
Steve continues: “So I went on groupons… I ended up finding a nice gym called Hard Knocks and that gym was within my price range. And I end up just being consistent with it, just going because I fell in love with it and I never looked back. One thing about me is that I have an addictive personality so if I like something, I give it my all. “
The intensity of Muay Thai and the demands of parenting, despite this subject barely being touched upon in the fight world, is an inevitable balance that many adult fighters juggle on a day to day basis. Steve Walker has been a Pro Muay Thai fighter for two years and is also a full time caregiver for four beautiful children and his elderly grandmother. Here’s what he had to say.
Steve: “Managing father hood and the gym was definitely conflicting to the point were I would come to the gym and then I would go home and cook. By the time the kids ate dinner, it would be like 10-11 o'clock and it was throwing them off their sleep schedule. So, what I started doing is while they were at school, I would cook around 1pm and then I would feed them at them at the gym another obstacle that I deal with is that I take care of my grandmother, she is paralyzed so like before I go to the gym I would change her pampers and give her a bath and then put her to bed and go to the gym with the children and then come back home and check her pampers or change her and just help my mom out a lot. And sometimes those struggles is what helps me push forward in the gym, nobody is more hungry than me and you have a lot on your plate and your doing this for them.”
In addition to the responsibilities to his family and his martial art, Steve also spoke about his conflict with ICE and the anxiety the threat of deportation places on you and your family. Here is what he had to say about his situation:
Steve: “Currently I am not a U.S citizens I’m from Jamaica, born and raised there. I came to the United States when I was 5 years old, but unfortunately I lived in an environment that had a very bad influence on me...there was a lot of negative activities but around that age you don’t really have that role model figure so, you are kind of looking up to the neighborhood and I ended up picking up a drug case at 17 years old. Not knowing that if you are what they call an immigrant you are not suppose to have any type of felonies on your record, I picked up a felony at 17 and now I’m 32 year old and they are trying to deport me so...I’m still in the process of getting deported....Yeah that’s just a big obstacle that every night I sit back and prey upon, fight for. You know I have four kids, I have custody of them, I have an 11 year old,3 year old, 6 year old and a 7 year old, 2 boys and 2 girls. And it’s just sad that I won’t be able to be there to raise them or watch my daughter receive that diploma and stuff like that, but we will see what the future holds for me.
Aleta: Is there anything people can do to help you with the deportation case in general?
Steve: “My thing was like, I was trying to knock on doors, and get my story told. I reached out to the Herald, I reached out to Fox 25, to get my story told but it’s hard when all the doors you do knock on is closing on you. My coach Bill he gets a lot of ideas , try to get a pardon from the Governor. Out of everybody I think I deserve a second chance, in the United States, I gave back to the community, I help youth create job resumes, I do workshops on HIV and STD awareness, I do workshops on cyberbullying with the youth aged 14-22. I also do workshops with different youth on interview prep, teach em’ how to tie a tie, how to prepare for an interview. Like I kind of like, I’m not saying pay my dues, but I help in the community, I’m not a burden. When it comes to Hard Knocks I love that gym, it’s a beautiful gym, and my coach is very supportive when it comes to me. He’s very protective when it comes to me also. And you know he’s hurt with my situation as it is how it is now. Right now I’m trying to come up with a documentary of me taking care of my kids, me taking care of his grandma, me cooking, cleaning, and training, and still smile. So I’m trying to create some type of legacy where if I do get deported my name would not be forgotten, or if they do say my name it’d be with a positive ring, rather than a negative. Rather than Steven that drug dealer I want them to say Steven that Champ. You know as they say, correct your wrongs.”
As the Cruiserweight champ of North America Steve has some heavy pressure in his life, some that could potentially tear him away from his family. Despite these obstacles, Walker’s successes as a Pro fighter, loving father and caregiver, and positive role model in his community show his indomitable spirit. What can we do as a community to uplift such a hard working father?
Resilient, determined, and gritty, fighters continue to amaze the world with their intense training and managing to do it covered in sweat and a smile. Now that Steve has won the fight I asked what is the first thing he wants to eat after weight cut, and he responded:
Steve: “You don't understand...Pizza man, I think every fighter loves pizza you know, I think every fighter is a Ninja turtle. If you look at every fighter that is cutting weight, the first thing they want is Pizza.”