A world champion UFC fighter was in Oklahoma City to inspire local student athletes and raise money for the police department’s Police Athletic League.

Robbie “Ruthless” Lawler was the celebrity guest for PAL’s annual charity fight night held on Thursday, Jan. 23 at The Criterion in Bricktown.

Lawler spent part of the day speaking to student athletes at U.S. Grant High School.

“I was focused,” Lawler said. “Never gave up.”

Before Lawler took to the auditorium stage at the high school, he was competing on the national stage as an MMA fighter.

Lawler is now lending his celebrity status to raise money for the community. The city’s annual fight night brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars for PAL. The organization gives thousands of 5th and 6th grade students from Oklahoma City Public Schools a chance to play a number of competitive sports at no charge. 

Lawler told the group of high school athletes his story of what it took to become a champion. He said it did not happen overnight.

“It was all the work I did years before that that got me to where I was,” he said.

Lawler has been fighting for 20 years, longer than the students in the audience have been alive.

They listened to what he had to say about dedication and overcoming obstacles.

“He fought to get to where he was at,” said Jeremie Allen, a high school senior. “That’s the same thing I’m doing. I’m fighting to get to where I’m going to be in my future.”

Some said the fighter's words inspired them.

“That’s the thing I need to work on the most is my patience,” said George Allen, a high school junior. “You know to look at him and see how it took him that long. You know it doesn’t come like that, you have to work for it.”