UFC STAR and FORMER RFA CHAMPION BRIAN “T-CITY” ORTEGA AWARDED “HISPANIC ATHLETE OF THE YEAR” BY INCA KOLA USA and NY BUSINESS LATINO
THE BRIAN ORTEGA FOUNDATION SET TO LAUNCH IN 2018
MINNEAPOLIS – Inca Kola USA and NY Business Latino hosted their annual Game Week KickOff Celebration in the Host City of the Super Bowl, Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Tuesday evening.
The event titled “Salute to Hispanics in Sports and Entertainment”, honors Hispanic sports and media stars that have accomplished great success in their respective fields and within their local communities.
The winner of this year’s Hispanic Athlete of the Year Award is UFC star and former RFA champion Brian “T-City” Ortega. Ortega is a 26-year-old mixed martial artist from Los Angeles, California who is currently ranked #3 in the world at featherweight (145-pounds).
Ortega began learning martial arts when he was 5-years-old. By age 13, he started training jiu-jitsu at the famed Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy and two years later he was studying all aspects of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Ortega currently holds the rank of black belt under Rener Gracie and is widely considered one of the top jiu-jitsu practitioners in MMA.
Ortega went 11-0 as an amateur and is currently 13-0 as a professional MMA fighter. The Californian of Mexican descent won the RFA featherweight title in January 2014 before signing with the UFC. He has won all five of his UFC fights by submission, knockout, or technical knockout. That includes UFC “Fight of the Night” award winning bonuses in both of his fights in 2017. Ortega is currently a top contender for the UFC featherweight title.
What makes Ortega a unique athlete is the impact he has had on his community outside of the Octagon since he started getting involved with charity work in 2008. He has been a volunteer for the Mauli Ola Foundation, which is a non-profit aimed at supporting children with Cystic Fibrosis and other genetic diseases. Ortega has also been an ambassador for Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Los Angeles. He was involved in a nationwide tour doing hospital visits to Children’s Hospitals and volunteering in surf experience days.
The Mauli Ola Foundation hosts surf experience days where kids with Cystic Fibrosis and their families are invited to go surfing. In May 2017, Ortega hosted the Manhattan Beach Surf Experience Day. He is the only non-pro surfer ambassador. The foundation embraced Ortega and what he stood for as an MMA fighter and surfer.
While Ortega continues to focus on capturing the UFC featherweight world title in 2018, he also has big plans to further his charity work this year. Immediately after his big win over Cub Swanson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 123 in Fresno this past December, he met with his team to establish his own foundation. Ortega is aiming to launch The Brian Ortega Foundation by this spring. The tagline for the non-profit organization will be “Be the change…”, which are words he lives by.
Ortega explained, “I want to change lives for the better. I was down and out at one point and was lucky enough to have good people come into my life and inspire me in a different way. A positive way. I want to do that for others. My mission is to raise money to support kids who are at risk of going down the wrong path and helping to steer their energy into something positive. I hope to support kids with a scholarship to train in jiu-jitsu at the Gracie University in Torrance. Something they could not afford to do otherwise. I’d like to continue visiting Children’s Hospitals to bring positivity and support to kids whose health issues prevent them from participating. That was really rewarding to me when I volunteered with Mauli Ola.”
Once The Brian Ortega Foundation’s website is complete, he will let everyone know what they can do to get involved. He will use his Facebook, Instagram (@BrianTCity), and Twitter (@BrianTCity) accounts to draw people to the website where they will be able to learn more. The website will have a small online store set up with items such as t-shirts and hats for purchase. 100% of those proceeds will go towards the foundation’s scholarship funds. The foundation board members are all volunteers. No one is paid so everything they raise will be given right back to the kids and teenagers in the community.
The 5th annual Game Week KickOff Celebration took place in the Super Bowl host city of Minneapolis, where the event was attended by members of the media, sports, and the business community. The other award winners included Christina Weiss Lurie, minority owner of the Philadelphia Eagles (Hispanic Leadership Award), Peter Villegas, Vice President of Hispanic Affairs of The Coca-Cola Company (Hispanic Executive of the Year), and Maya Santamaria, CEO of Sanatamaria Broadcasting (Hispanic Media Award). The Hispanic Athlete of the Year was added in the second year of the annual award ceremony. Past winners include David Villa, Major League Soccer player (2016), Gaston Bolaños, Muay Thai fighter (2015), and David Segui, Major League Baseball player (2014).