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Rad and his Dad: Martinez takes care of dad, beats people up

By Amy Donaldson

Deseret News

Published: Sunday, July 5 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

"It was only a mile from the house so she went over there," Rad said. "When she realized it was him, she went on to the hospital."

At the hospital, the family was told that Richard had suffered severe head trauma and it wasn't clear if he'd even survive.

"I remember thinking if this was an April Fool's joke, it was not a good joke," said Rad glancing at his father, seated next to him in a wheelchair for their daily ritual of "The Price is Right."

"His condition wasn't good," Rad said. "I remember thinking I hope he doesn't die. Our mom had passed away, so we were familiar with death."

Richard was in a coma for weeks. After that, he went to a rehabilitation center. For a year, Rad and Levi lived with their father's brother, Dennis Martinez. Then they moved in with Richard's parents. Rad grew up watching his grandmother care for his father, and Levi Martinez believes that has a lot to do with Rad's decision to take over their father's care after Clara's death.

"He was always close to our grandma, and she always put Dad first," said Levi.

Rad acknowledges his affection for his grandmother plays a role in his devotion to his father.

"She didn't want me to do this," said Rad as he gently wipes his father's mouth. "But I heard her say to Dad 100 times, 'Richard, what is going to happen to you when I'm gone?' She was desperately afraid of what was going to happen to him. I told her, I was going to do it. So I'm going to do it. She did it for 17 years, 24 hours a day. If she can do that, then I can do it."

That determination, that drive is what makes him a top-notch fighter. It also made him a successful college wrestler, although he almost chose a completely different path.

The boys moved with their father and grandparents to West Jordan when Rad was a senior in high school. He played football and wrestled for the Jaguars, but he wanted badly to graduate, get a job and start earning his own money.

"I didn't want to go to college," he said. "I wanted to start working. My wrestling coach got me a job taking care of swimming pools. He rode me every single day about going to college. 'You've got to go to college; you've got to go to college.' He finally talked me into it."

He also helped him secure a wrestling scholarship with Northwest Community College in Wyoming. After that he went to Clarion College in Pennsylvania, where he wrestled at 133 pounds. He graduated, coached for the college and earned his master's in sports management.

One of his college teammates, Frank Edgars, began fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and he trained a little with him in martial arts that year.

"He kept saying, 'You've got to do this. You'd be great at it,' " said Rad with a grin. "I moved home and started an internship with Real Salt Lake. I wanted to work in sports."

He watched Edgars continue to evolve into a talented MMA fighter, and he and his brother began to pay attention to the growing sport. In 2006, he began helping with his father's care more and more. Then in 2008, another friend talked him into taking some jiujitsu classes with him at Gold's Gym.

"I was getting a lot of compliments, people saying I was big and strong," he said. "After three weeks, they talked me into a tournament and I took second. The bug had bit."

They bought some equipment and began training for an MMA fight. They really didn't know what they were doing, but they were having fun.

"I didn't miss some of the training for wrestling, but I missed the competition," he said. Rad fought an amateur fight and won but hurt himself. He recovered, fought again and lost a close decision.

Meanwhile, Levi Martinez, who owns a wrestling club for youngsters, saw Johnny Riche at a wrestling tournament. Riche told him Rad should try out at Throwdown in Orem.

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