In the fall of 2019, the martial arts world was shaken by a tragedy. The daughter of Walt Harris, the American fighter of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has died. RIA Novosti Sport recalls a nightmarish story that turned a career final into a classy heavyweight.
If he wins, he just knocks out
Today’s birthday boy came to the UFC 10 years ago. During this time, Harris was kicked out of the league and brought back. He was caught doping after the victory over Andrei Orlovsky, received two bonuses for the “Performance of the Night”, defeated Alexei Oleinik, was inferior to Nikita Krylov and Shamil Abdurahimov.
At one point, Walt hit a four-game undefeated streak and approached the title race in the most prestigious UFC division. The fighter, nicknamed The Big Ticket, had 13 wins. All achieved by knockout!
And then came the fall of 2019. After that, the athlete lost ahead of schedule to Alistair Overeem, Alexander Volkov and Marcin Tybure. The American did not announce his retirement. However, after this shock, it is clear that the sport was in the background for Harris.
Next July, the fighter will hold his first fight after a two-year hiatus. The opponent will be Josh Parisyan.
What’s so crippled Harris? In the fall of 2019, 19-year-old stepdaughter Anya Blanchard did not return home from college. The town of Auburn seemed to have “swallowed” her. She was last seen at a store near the school. A day later, Anya was recognized, the search began.
The family endured the most difficult ordeal with determination. It was especially difficult for the wife of a fighter, who had already lost a child. Hope was sustained to the end as he did his best to seek media. Photos circulated on television channels and social networks, the police scanned the area every day.
The Governor of Alabama has offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who provides information about Anya’s whereabouts or her kidnapper/murderer. UFC president Dana White also took the floor. The head of the promotion, champion Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, expressed their readiness to add an additional $25,000 to the amount.
Two days later, the girl’s car was found. All covered in blood. The versions of the police were clear: Anya had been kidnapped or had already died.
Two weeks have passed. Auburn Police Department released CCTV footage. A suspicious man was identified from the video, which turned out to be the convicted Ibrahim Yazid, who was released on bail. The thug Anthway Fisher, who took him to the abduction scene, and a certain David Johnson Jr., were arrested on kidnapping charges.
But where is Anya? Despite the time since the disappearance, all of America hoped for a miracle. Unfortunately it didn’t.
The decomposing body of a girl was found on November 25 near a Baptist church in the Macon County village. Law enforcement confirmed a sad prediction: the remains belonged to the stepdaughter of a UFC fighter. Cause of death was bullet wound.
“I know you want me to stay strong”
Fischer and Johnson were eventually released. However, Yazid was placed in one of the Texas prisons without bail. However, the decision has not yet been made.
The criminal’s plan was clearly foiled. No calls to parents, no ransom. Yazid pushed Anya into the car and shot her away from the witnesses. At the trial, the attacker himself claimed that the prisoner tried to pick up the gun and then a gunshot was heard.
No matter how Yazid justifies himself – justice must be done. He was charged three times at the end of 2022. The offender faces life imprisonment or the death penalty. True, a fair punishment is unlikely to console Ani’s relatives and friends.
“Dear girl… I want to thank you for changing my life for the better. For teaching me how to be a man and a father. For being the biggest fan of victories and defeats. A smile when I wanted to give up. You light up my way. Unbearable pain I know you want me to stay strong but I’m so sorry hard I promise I’ll find a way Nothing means right now I’m lost I just want you back I hope you made me proud I will move on Dad needs some time I love you so much Take care of us as always We need you more than ever. Become an angel, my little strong tiger cub. I will love you forever baby.”
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