Where once Adil Mbondo would run, jump and climb in his Lewis Center home, now he can run, jump and climb right into your living room.
Adil, 11, is a contestant on the current season of "American Ninja Warrior Junior," a version of the popular competition show for young athletes that is broadcast on the Universal Kids network and on its YouTube channel.
Susan Mbondo, Adil's mother, recalled times when her son would climb on furniture or do the spider climb in a hallway at their home. He always has had high energy, she said, and was diagnosed with ADHD at age 3.
"I've always looked for positive things to do to get that energy off," she said.
She said family members often would watch "American Ninja Warrior" and were aware of local ninja athlete Michelle Warnky, who owns Movement Lab Ohio, 400 Lazelle Road, where Adil now trains. Susan said Adil had trained at the gym for six months shortly after it opened in 2016 but stopped to concentrate on tae kwon do. After earning a 2nd-dan black belt, she asked Adil what he wanted to do next.
"He said, 'Let's go back to ninja,' " Susan Mbondo said.
"He's very well-rounded and a natural athlete," said Kyle Wheeler, one of the coaches at Movement Lab Ohio. "When he was training to be on (the show), it just made him extra-motivated."
"It just pushed me harder because I knew I would be competing against kids who are really good and experienced, and I would have to try and be as good as them," said Adil, a sixth-grader at Olentangy Schools' Shanahan Middle School.
Young Movement Lab Ohio athletes have appeared on past seasons of the show, benefiting in part from the television experience of Warnky and co-owners and "American Ninja Warrior" veterans Chris and Brian Wilcewski. When another parent suggested Adil might want to try out for "American Ninja Warrior Junior," Adil and his mother decided to give it a try.
"There were a lot of forms, and we did a lot of video, and there was some back and forth with the producers, but eventually, we got the call," Susan Mbondo said.
"He looks like he should be on TV, and he has the talent to back it up," Wheeler said.
"I was super, super excited," Adil said.
The show filmed during 2019 and debuted Feb. 22. It airs Saturdays on Universal Kids.
Adil used the moniker "Ninja Ali" for the show, a nod to his resemblance to a very young Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali).
Three final winners -- one per age bracket -- will be crowned "American Ninja Warrior Junior" champions June 13.
"So many people watching and so many cameras. ... I was nervous, but I'm glad I did it," Adil said.
Adil also competes with Movement Lab Ohio's National Ninja League squad, the Lab Rats. NNL is an international organization that runs team ninja events.
Susan Mbondo said some travel is required as part of the team, including a trip this month to North Carolina for the national finals.
"I do it for both the fun and the competition," Adil said. "I want to keep pushing myself to get better and stronger."
"He likes the challenge of an obstacle. He wants to be challenged because he wants to get it right," his mother said. "When he's working on something, he just keeps on going.
"He's very determined."