Nobody knows where exactly he is from but the street fighting underground MMA champ is a legend in Russia…
Many fans will recognize MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko as the greatest Russian to ever grace the sport. While this may well be true, there’s another man floating around the underground circuit who carries quite a name for himself.
Look no further than the doorways of shopfronts or apartment stairwells in Moscow on any given night of the week and you’ll find a bearded warrior by the name of Ali Baba. Really named Vyacheslav Yurovskikh, he is a 45-year old homeless man with a fight in his heart.
He travels across Eastern Europe, fighting to make money for his family. He may not be the best fighter to come out of Russia but Yurovskikh’s story is one of struggle and poverty akin to his home nation’s history.
For survival, Ali Baba goes to the roots of our basic animal instincts, to fight:
Homeless Fighter, Cult Hero
Speaking with Vice, Baba discusses his status as a hero in Russia, and the now infamous photos of him with Fedor Emelianenko and Jean Claude Van Damme:
There’s even a photo called “Two Legends”–me and Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor being the official legend and me being the legend of the underground fighting scene. For many people who read my blog and see me fighting,
I symbolize the spirit of a fighter. They say that the spirit of a fighter has arisen inside of me. I have never fought before and then, just of a sudden, I went to fight and kick everyone’s ass.
For tournament organizers and coaches, I’m a living legend who proves that at the age of 40+ you can still fight.
I’m also like an elder brother for many. Especially for those who don’t have fathers or have fathers who are drinking and pay no attention to their kids. Kids often write to me asking for advice, sometimes they ask me about social needs. I once had a whole love affair that I was part of.
With all that, I consider myself just an ordinary man, that’s all. Maybe I’d like to feel something like [a hero] but as another Russian saying goes, “You can’t foul a mirror.” One-eyed, squint-eyed, defective, imperfect. This just kills any desire to be famous no matter how hard I’ve tried to turn my birth defect into an advantage.
I’ve submitted to the fact that that’s the way I look, that’s how God created me. I won’t become more beautiful or better looking, so live the way you are.
I went to train at one of Moscow sambo clubs and I had a sparring with one young fellow who threw me and I had my arm disjointed. I’ve joined back myself because I couldn’t go to a doctor since I don’t have a registration in Moscow. I was blaming myself for going there in the first place after such a long break.
But time has passed and I went there again. Then I’ve read on the web that there was a jiu-jitsu tournament in St. Petersburg. It turned out to be grappling, not jiu-jitsu, though, but it was one of the first big fight tournaments in Russia. I was very nervous and afraid of my fight being videotaped. I thought I would look like a dork but I won the first fight. The second fight I got my rib broken, though.
I want to get a house or at least a flat so my parents could live in normal conditions because they had more sufferings on their part than myself. I don’t know how many years they are given by God. I hope it’s going to happen. I once had an opportunity to take them to Egypt because it’s cheap. The sea is cleaner. I’ve saved money to take them there. They came back and have been talking for weeks, telling everyone about the trip.