MIXED MARTIAL ARTS FIGHTING FAVORITE TITO ORTIZ RETURNS FROM VISITING U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ ON USO TOUR; BEGINS WORK ON AUTOBIOGRAPHY FOR SIMON & SCHUSTER
LOS ANGELES – (August 13, 2007) – Tito Ortiz, the colorful mixed martial arts fighter, begins work on his autobiography for Simon Spotlight Entertainment (a division of Simon & Schuster) this week following his return from visiting with U.S. troops in Iraq and military hospitals in Washington. His tour was sponsored by the USO.
“I was really shaken up after my visit with the wounded soldiers at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Army Hospital,” Ortiz said upon his return. “It really hurt me in my heart seeing these guys missing limbs and suffering from brain damage, but their spirit is amazing and it was great seeing their parents and families there supporting them 100%.”
Ortiz, the former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champ, flew from Washington to Kuwait in the Persian Gulf with fellow fighter Justin McCully. They were then flown by plane to Camp Liberty in Baghdad later and by Black Hawk helicopter to the Army base in Tajif. Altogether they met with an estimated 3,000 officers and enlisted personnel, signing autographs, posing for photos and chatting individually with soldiers.
“It was obvious that our visit provided a big morale boost for the soldiers in Tajif,” Ortiz said. “They had recently lost some buddies and we spent a lot of time talking with them and telling them how much we appreciated their effort. We shook hands with everybody and by the time we left I think the mood changed, as there were lots of smiles. It’s unbelievable how much the guys appreciated the visit.”
Back in Baghdad, Ortiz met a long-time fan who had painted the fighter’s own slogan across his barracks wall: “With Great Sacrifice Comes Great Reward.” At another barracks the entire squad signed an American flag and asked him to carry it into the octagonal the next time he fights. “I definitely will,” Ortiz said.
“You know, we here at home live our daily lives, go to work, go to restaurants and don’t have a care in the world, but these soldiers are over there with guns strapped to their sides 24/7 and it is surreal to see that this is normal to them,” said Oritz. “Some are on their fourth and fifth campaigns out there and they are still willing to go back. I learned more than ever before how real this war is. I’ll go back again at any time. My goal now is to rededicate myself to our troops.”
Many of the soldiers they met sent mails after meeting the fighters. A typical one, from an Army captain, said, “It was a true pleasure meeting both Tito and Justin. It’s nice seeing true patriots taking personal time off of their schedule to give back to people who really enjoy what they do as a profession.”
Along with beginning work on the autobiography, Ortiz has also begun training for a rematch fight with Rashad Evans later this year. The two fought to a draw in July.
About Tito Ortiz
Jacob “Tito” Ortiz is a legendary MMA fighter. His career has been mostly within the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization where he was Light-Heavyweight champion and became one of the UFC’s shining stars. A native of Huntington Beach, CA, Ortiz is also known as “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” and is admired as both a colorful showman and talented athlete. His acting ability and charisma have earned him roles in several films and TV series, including an appearance on the CBS TV series “NUMB3RS.” He donates significant time to charitable work, makes appearances to support the U.S. troops and heads a successful sportswear firm, Punishment Athletics.
About the USOFor more than 66 years, the USO (United Service Organizations) has been providing morale, welfare and recreational services to U.S. military personnel and their families. The USO is a nonprofit, charitable organization, relying on the generosity of the American people to support its programs and services. The USO is supported by Worldwide Strategic Partners AT&T Inc., BAE Systems North America, Clear Channel Communications, The Coca-Cola Company, DRS Technologies, Inc., Military Channel, S & K Sales Co., TriWest Healthcare Alliance and The Walt Disney Company. Other corporate donors, including the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381), have joined thousands of individual donors to support the USO. For more information on the USO, please visit our Web site at www.uso.org.