Walker to start training next month

Updated: September 22, 2009, 1:17 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Herschel Walker is starting a new career in mixed martial arts.

The 47-year-old former NFL running back said Monday that he has signed a multi-fight contract with promoter Strikeforce. Walker will begin a 12-week training camp next month in San Jose, Calif.

"I've been training for several years," Walker said in a statement on the Strikeforce Web site. "I would play college football games on Saturday and then compete in martial arts tournaments on Sunday after church. I'm now looking forward to opening up another chapter in my life and to competing in MMA."

The 1982 Heisman Trophy winner already holds a fifth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He also competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics with the United States bobsled team.

Most recently, Walker appeared on Donald Trump's reality show "The Celebrity Apprentice."

"I will go in there and test myself against any 20-year-old," Walker said in the statement. "I know there will be naysayers and I'm fine with that. I want to prove to people who sit on a couch and don't do anything but criticize other people that, if you're a true athlete or martial artist, you're not old until you can't get up and walk around anymore. MMA fighters are said to be some of the best athletes in the world. My plan at the age of 47 is to show the world I am still one of the best athletes as well."

Walker made news early in his football career, avoiding NFL rules by turning professional after his junior year at Georgia by signing with the United States Football League. He played for the New Jersey Generals, who were owned by Trump. In 1985, he rushed for 2,411 yards.

The Dallas Cowboys drafted Walker in 1985, and when the USFL folded Walker joined the club for the 1986 season. He went on to make the Pro Bowl in 1987 and 1988. He led the league in yards from scrimmage in 1987 with 1,606 (891 rushing, 715 receiving). In 1988 he ran for a career-high 1,514 yards and added 505 receiving yards.

Walker's NFL career might best be known, however, for his trade to the Vikings in 1989. Minnesota gave up five players and six draft picks for Walker, who never equaled his numbers in Dallas. The Cowboys used the players and picks to amass a Super Bowl dynasty, while the Vikings slipped.

Walker went on to play for the Eagles, Giants and again for the Cowboys at the end of his NFL career.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.