Local wrestler tough in the ring, selfless at home

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WEST JORDAN -- The bond between a father and a son can be unbreakable. That's certainly the case for a family in West Jordan. The story of Richard Martinez and his son Rad is one you won't soon forget.

Rad Martinez is his name. Mixed martial arts is his game.

"I love the competition of it. I love the fact that you have to know so many elements to be really good in the sport," Rad says.

He is really good at his sport -- one that involves wrestling, boxing, kick boxing and ju-jitsu. At 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 155 pounds, this 31-year old is as tough as they come. He's currently the Throwdown Lightweight Champion in Utah.

"Rad is one of those elite athletes, and he's not near as good as he's going to be," says his trainer, Griffen Reynauld.

To be one of the best, Rad trains hard. But after 3 hours of aggression, his world becomes one of compassion and unconditional love. Rad spends most of his day caring for his father, Richard Martinez, who sustained a devastating brain injury in a car accident back in 1991.

"When we went to the hospital and saw him, it really hits you that you're in for a life-changing experience," Rad says. "As an 11- and 12-year-old, it kinda makes you grow up pretty quickly."

That's especially true for Rad since he was already growing up without his mother, who had passed away a few years earlier. So, Rad and his brother lived with his paternal grandparents.

But when his grandmother died three years ago, it was Rad who stepped in to help. This two-time All-American wrestler, who earned a master's degree in sports management, would instead feed, clean and love his father every day.

"I don't know if he knows who I am or if he knows who he is," Rad says. "Obviously, I wish we could socialize and talk a little bit more, but me helping him does help me and make me feel good about myself, and I hope he knows."

"I told my grandmother I would do it," Rad continues, "so I'm glad I could fulfill my promise and do it."

While Rad fights to be one of MMA's best, he'll also continue fighting for his father's life.

"I talk to people, and they say, ‘I don't know if I could do that.' And I say, ‘If you're thrown into that situation, you'd be surprised,'" Rad says.

Rad says his father's condition has remained the same for the past decade, so the two could be together for many years to come.

E-mail: kaiken@ksl.com

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Kathy Aiken


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