He's one of Group Seven's greatest ever exports, overcoming countless adversity to get where he is today.
Now former Warilla-Lake South Gorilla Alex Volkanovski is giving back to the South Coast Rugby League Competition that gave him so much.
The 32-year-old is donating close to 30 "Alexander the Great" books to all Group Seven junior clubs.
"It's a small gesture from me, to try and put a big smile on all the young players in Group Seven during these tough times," said Volkanovski, whose book is written by Courtney Beaton and illustrated by Samuel Hall.
"With two daughters myself, I know how hard these COVID times are on all the kids, especially without sports like rugby league, which was pivotal in shaping me into the person I am today.
"With the book's emphasis on resiliency and overcoming adversity - traits I developed playing rugby league as well as in martial arts - I'm sure it will resonate with everyone who is doing it tough through these challenging times.
"I'm really proud to be able to be in a position to do this and hope it has a huge impact on all those recipient's lives."
Much like Volkanovski, who had a fight earlier in the year postponed due to COVID-19, the Group Seven juniors haven't played finals footy for two seasons due to the worldwide pandemic.
"With two interrupted seasons in a row, I imagine plenty of the juniors are struggling to stay motivated during these times," the 32-year-old said.
"Hopefully my book can encourage the junior players to continue to work hard and follow your dreams because I'm walking proof that anything can happen if you put enough time into your chosen craft."
Another of the region's top sporting exports Ashton Sims, who now is the operations manager of Group Seven, was blown away by the generosity of the defending UFC featherweight champion.
"Volko is obvious a big part of the Gorillas family and has always been one to support Group Seven when he can and this is no different," Sims said.
"When his camp contacted me about this opportunity, we jumped at it, as his books have some strong subliminal and powerful messages in there, that many young kids can relate to - especially during these unprecedented times.
"In life, there's going to be many up and downs - so the last two years have shown - but having a solid level of grit and determination is a big part of being successful in life.
"Volko is such a big inspiration to everyone in the Group Seven family and we're really excited to be teaming up with him, to ensure a bright future for the next generation of world champions in whatever career path they choose."
As hard as Volkanovski is working out of the octagon to inspire the next generation of sports stars, he's been giving it his all at the Freestyle Fighting Gym, to prepare for this month's UFC266 bout with Brian Ortega.
"This 'bubble' preparation is similar to what I went through last year but it wasn't something I thought I'd have to go through again," Volkanovski said.
"These are the times we're in, so I'm just thankful I'm allowed to go over to Nevada to defend my title, before bringing it back to Australia where it belongs.
"Although my training hasn't been exactly what I had planned, much like it says in my book, you've got to be resilient in life and that's exactly what we've done.
"I know we've done the absolute most with the cards we've been dealt - I'm more than prepared for this fight."
One of the reasons for that altered training is the fact the former Michael Cronin Medal winner contracted COVID-19, just prior to his originally slated fight with United States' Ortega.
"Admittedly, it was a struggle getting back into training at the start but thanks to the Ultimate Fighter Show, I've had a bit of extra time to recover and not worry too much about working out," he said.
"There were about two months there where I had to ease myself back into training and not overdo it - thankfully there's no scar tissue on my lungs either.
"But that's all behind me and I'm back to 100 per cent.
"I'm hitting amazing numbers, shown by my heart rate being as low as it's ever been - showing just how fit I am going into this fight."
With the fight less than two weeks away, Volkanovski is finalising his training with coach Joe Lopez, before heading to the US on Friday.
"We've still got a couple more tough sessions before we jump on that plane on Friday," Volkanovski, who has won his past 19 fights, said.
"Then the hard part is over and the fun part begins - there's nothing better than fight week.
"I can't wait to do work in the cage and once again prove why I'm the best in the world at what I do.
"This fight has been building for months, with a lot of that due to Brian [Ortega] and I have been coaching against one another during the Ultimate Fighter Show.
"It's been a long time coming and I can't wait to put my hands on him and actually walk the walk after months of talking."