Many great fighters in both boxing and the UFC have had rough childhoods. Boxing champ Mike Tyson was committing petty crimes as a kid, and former UFC champ Henry Cejudo’s parents were both undocumented immigrants. UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz also had a hard childhood, since he not only had parents who were addicts, but he was an addict, too.
A look at Tito Ortiz’s childhood
As Ortiz told DJ Vlad, both of his parents were addicted to heroin, and neither of them showed him much attention or love. This caused him to turn to the streets, and there, he got involved with a gang.
They’d do petty crimes such as stealing cars or getting into fights, but one day, his friend was shot and killed right in front of him. He was almost killed himself, but he ran away in time.
This brush with death encouraged his mom to do something drastic. She told her husband that she’d leave with the kids if he didn’t clean up his act, and he didn’t.
So, she packed up her bags and left for Huntington Beach with her kids in tow. At first, this was the start of a new life. In high school, he started wrestling since he was a fan of the WWE. He was good at it, but, when he graduated, his mom forced him to move out.
At 18, he didn’t know what he was doing with his life, and so, he turned to the same thing that his parents had turned to, drugs.
Tito Ortiz gets addicted to meth and then kicks it
With no direction in his life, Ortiz just lived with his brother while he worked at a moving company. One of his friends introduced him to meth, and he got addicted to it for over a year.
Like many meth addicts, the drug started showing its effects on his face and skin. One day, while at a nightclub, an old wrestling coach recognized him and then pulled him aside.
Like he told DJ Vlad, that coach wondered why he wasn’t in college and wrestling like he did in high school. Ortiz told him that he was working to make ends meet, and that he couldn’t afford college. That coach was also concerned about how Ortiz looked and, not long after, he finally looked at himself in the mirror.
Ortiz told DJ Vlad that when he looked at himself in the mirror, he saw what meth was doing to him. He saw that he was becoming his parents, literally and metaphorically. This was something he absolutely did not want, and so, he quit his job and went to college.
That coach then guided him through the whole financial aid process, and that’s what allowed him to kick his addiction and return to wrestling.
Tito Ortiz goes from college wrestling to the UFC
In terms of college wrestling, he did well for himself since he, according to the L.A. Times, became a two-time junior college state wrestling champ at his weight class. Not long after he enrolled in college, he got a chance to fight in the UFC at UFC 13.
He fought twice at UFC 13, and he won one fight and he lost the other. Even though he said that he fought for free at this event, soon, he’d make his living fighting in the UFC. In 2000, he became the UFC champ, and two decades later, he’s still fighting, though, he doesn’t fight for the UFC anymore.
More recently, it’s been rumored that the 45-year-old former champ might be getting into a fight with ‘Iron Mike’ Tyson. If this fight does happen, then it would put a feather in the cap of his already interesting life.