40-year-old Alexis Vila's long, strange trip

by Michael David Smith | source: mmafighting.com


Alex Vila entered the conciousness of the sport Saturday night with a potential knockout of the year candidate in a non title bout vs. Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (see bottom). How he got there includes defection and years in jail on a terrorism charge.

Vila was a bronze medalist in wrestling at the 1996 Olympics, when he represented his native Cuba. A year later he defected to the United States and began exploring the possibility of becoming a professional fighter -- but that process was nearly derailed when he was sent to prison for three years after what he says was an accident, but the authorities labeled a terrorist act.

In 2004 Vila crashed his SUV into a Southeast Airlines ticket counter and smashed through a wall at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Then he ran. No one was hurt, and Vila has always maintained that it was simply an accident. But authorities initially believed Vila had committed a terrorist act, and, after commitment for a psychiatric evaluation, charged Vila with committing airport violence, a felony that could have put him in prison for 20 years. He eventually pleaded guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence.

"I was in prison for three years," Vila said. "It's no good. I'm a little guy so people who don't know me try things all the time. So I fought a lot. They didn't believe that I could fight. I said when I get out and I fight I'm going to be the champ."

"My dad is really sick over there (in Cuba) but there's nothing I can do. I can only send money, not visit. I tell my mom, I send money so you guys can have a better life."

Vila made it through the first round of the eigh-man tournament. Two more fights, and he will have a lot more money to send home.

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tags: Bellator   Joe Warren   Joe Vila   video   

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Recent Comments »

xcouturefan site profile image  

9/28/11 1:34 PM by xcouturefan


mac_timm site profile image  

9/28/11 12:26 PM by mac_timm

"In 2004 Vila crashed his SUV into a Southeast Airlines ticket counter and smashed through a wall at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Then he ran."-from article.What an idiot! Way to be a man and take off running after crashing a vehicle through a ticket counter. Why does everyone always believe that someone who will leave their family in another country, with little or no chance of returning, came over to send money back home? Sounds pretty selfish to me, especially considering most Cuban baseball players marry Americans when they get over here and leave the Cuban wives behind. What, he couldn't go to a Cuban friendly country and make money?That was one hell of a KO though, knocked out Joe Warren looks like he is giving the 'Black Power' gesture.

xcouturefan site profile image  

9/28/11 12:36 AM by xcouturefan


epwar site profile image  

9/27/11 3:16 PM by epwar

Your dreams await at this thread, my fren. http://www.mixedmartialarts.com/mma.cfm?go=forum_framed.posts&forum=1&thread=1881618&page=1&pc=173  

Ligeia420 site profile image  

9/27/11 3:13 PM by Ligeia420

 someone romo that warren picture ALSO WAR VILA!!

mmavixen site profile image  

9/27/11 3:11 PM by mmavixen


JustSaying site profile image  

9/27/11 1:07 PM by JustSaying

 Whether it was an accident or not.  Its still a pretty sad story.  Immigrating to another country by yourself, just so you can make some extra money to send back to your family.  With never having the ability to return home to be with them, I can't imagine how he's able to go on every day.  I guess the thought that all of this is for them and if he gives up he gives up on them. TT for Alexis Vila

3Lions site profile image  

9/27/11 12:59 PM by 3Lions

Brilliant takedown by the ref!

MonsterBalls site profile image  

9/27/11 12:15 PM by MonsterBalls

That picture is awesome, lol!