Behind Grayson Waller’s Drive to Excel: The Muhammad Ali Photo That Ignites Greatness


Inspirations can come from anywhere, and it knows no boundaries. Famous personalities play a big role in inspiring and influencing others. Muhammad Ali is one such big name that has probably inspired a number of athletes. WWE’s Grayson Waller is among many of those who have been inspired by the legendary boxer. A lot of fans did not know about this detail until recently when the wrestler admitted it publicly.

In an interview with Ariel Helwani, the WWE wrestler discussed the impact that the legendary boxer has had on his life. Not only was Ali slightly related to the wrestler’s wrestling career, but ended up giving his character a new perspective. And all of this happened just through one infamous picture of the boxing legend.


How did one picture affect Grayson Waller so deeply?

Appearing as a guest on The MMA Hour’s recent interview coverage, Waller talked about several things. In the midst of an interesting conversation, Helwani couldn’t help but ask the wrestler about the big poster on the wall behind him. The poster was a picture of none other than Muhammad Ali victoriously standing atop Sonny Liston.

Despite the infamous ‘phantom punch’ of the 1965 bout, it is one of Ali’s most iconic pictures. Using this visual, Fit Finlay, who acted as a mentor to Waller, taught him a valuable lesson.

Following Helwani’s question, Waller explained that Finlay had told him about the picture. “He was like, you need to stand there, above then, and show that you’re better than them. So, as soon as he told me that, I took that to heart and I actually went and bought this and put it up in my house. So, every day I think about the fact that I need to act like I’m Muhammad Ali. Like when I go in there, I need to feel like I’m the best, not just say it,” replied the SmackDown star.


Although the rising WWE heel’s words are flattering enough, this isn’t the first time that we have seen the WWE world paying tribute to Muhammad Ali’s greatness. In fact, the whole wrestling promotion once stood up to pay their due respect to the late boxer.


WWE’s ultimate tribute to Muhammad Ali

In 2016, the world lost its boxing gem. However, the tributes are still seen to this day because of the impact Ali has left behind on the rest of the world. Following his greatness even years later, WWE decided to pay tribute to ‘The Greatest’ in their own way. They did this in partnership with Mattel.

Working alongside the toy company, WWE was able to produce Muhammad Ali’s action figures. Due to it being a WWE action figure, Ali’s WrestleMania 1 appearance was also present as one of the two figures.

The other figure had the late legend in his regular boxing gloves to commemorate his past bouts. The figures are now open to order from starting Friday, July 21.

While Waller’s tribute is not as high profile as producing action figures for the late boxer, him remembering the legend every time he is about to enter the ring is respectful enough.


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