SAN FRANCISCO - Filipino-American mixed martial arts fighter Virgil Ortigas is fighting his way to the top.
The 29 year old Ortigas from Vallejo, California is a winner in the ring.
He has won the Golden Gloves twice, in 2002 and 2004 for boxing. He was also a national Jujitsu championship in 2008.
"Finally, after your hard work, you see the fruits of your labor. I feel blessed and honored to be able to compete at a further level," Ortigas said.
But Ortigas said he is more thankful that he can give back to the community, especially to the kids.
He volunteers at the Westbay Pilipino Multi-Service Center, located in South of Market, a crime-ridden area in San Francisco. He regularly teaches self-defense to kids like 9-year old Juan Tarayan.
“It helps me not to be scared anymore. I can defend myself," said Tarayan.
His trainer Thai Poblete said he also trains at-risk youth to be mixed martial arts fighters themselves.
Poblete said, "He picks up a lot of kids in Oakland that otherwise, would not have the chance to train. He gives back to the community."
Besides teaching skills, Ortigas said he wants young people to realize the discipline behind martial arts.
"When you train to be the best that you can be, you take that to yourself and everything that you do in life," he said.
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