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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

Rad took his brother's advice, and coaches there loved Martinez.

"They let me work out there for free now," he said. In addition, he now gets coaching on the disciplines of MMA, boxing, wrestling and martial arts.

As lonely as parts of Rad's life have been, his brother has been one of the constants.

Just 16 months apart, Rad and Levi grew up wrestling, but without family in the stands.

"I do feel like we missed out on a lot of things," said Rad without a hint of self-pity. "My grandparents weren't able to go to football games or wrestling matches because they were with my dad. That was hard."

But what he lacked in parental support, he has found tenfold in brotherly love.

"Levi loves it," Rad said, breaking into another grin. "He thinks I can beat anybody."

Rad had gotten used to competing alone, but he said it is comforting to look to his corner on fight nights and see Levi standing there cheering.

"He is the familiar face," Rad said.

Levi Martinez said he hopes to see his brother in the UFC by the end of the year.

"Aside from being his brother, I think he's the best fighter in Utah," said Levi. "I think he has the potential to be in the UFC, and that's our main goal."

So just where will Rad's MMA skills take him?

"That's a tough question," he said. "I don't see it as a hobby. I'm taking it very seriously. Do I see it as a career? I don't know about that either. Right now I see taking care of my dad as my career and MMA as more of a part-time job."

He acknowledges that his commitment to his father may limit his options in MMA — and life in general. While other competitors are training several hours twice a day, Rad barely squeezes in three hours each weekday.

"I can't lie, yes I do (feel it's a disadvantage)," he said. "I know I need more time in the gym, but I just have to find a way to do more with less. I have to pack more into that three hours. I just have to work harder."

It isn't just a competitive edge Rad may be sacrificing by choosing to care for his father. Levi worries that he's giving up having a family of his own.

"I have an 8-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son," said Levi, "and I want to be at every event in their lives. I don't want them to grow up the way we did with no one there ... I don't worry about it, but I am concerned about the choice he's made."

Levi helps out as much as he can, but he knows the toll caring for his father took on his grandmother. And while he's concerned, he also admires his brother's decision to do the same.

"I think it's a testament to his character and his strength," said Levi as he moves across the room to help Rad move their father from his wheelchair to a bed.

Rad doesn't believe he's giving up that much.

"If I am able to find someone, and if I'm able to have kids, I think they'll understand why I'm not in the stands," he said, acknowledging he's dating a woman who has no trouble with the constraints of his life. "I knew why my grandparents weren't there ... I have always been a homebody anyway."

For Rad, it is simply what a son does for his father, and he knows his care, his affection may even extend his father's life.

"It makes me feel like he's my kid," said Rad as he tells his father what he's making for lunch. "It makes me love him more. There are those times when he's on my last nerve, but that's how kids are. It doesn't make me love him any less. I love him more. But I'm still his kid, and he deserves respect."

E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com

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