Iconic Fighter, Coach and UFC Legend Tito Ortiz to be Inducted into the California Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

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Today it was announced that Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jacob 'Tito' Ortiz (http://www.TitoOrtiz.com) also known as “The People's Champ” will be inducted into the California Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (http://nwhof.org/california/) for his numerous contributions to the sport throughout the years. He will be officially inducted as the State nominee for the Outstanding American Award on Sunday, May 20, 2012, at the annual California Chapter National Wrestling Hall of Fame banquet, 6:00 p.m. at the Laguna Hills Community Center, 25555 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills

Today it was announced that Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jacob 'Tito' Ortiz (http://www.TitoOrtiz.com) also known as “The People's Champ” will be inducted into the California Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (http://nwhof.org/california/) for his numerous contributions to the sport throughout the years. He will be officially inducted as the State nominee for the Outstanding American Award on Sunday, May 20, 2012, at the annual California Chapter National Wrestling Hall of Fame banquet, 6:00 p.m. at the Laguna Hills Community Center, 25555 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills.

Tito Ortiz is regarded world over as one of the most famous MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters in all of UFC history. He's sold out more pay-per-views than any other fighter in the history of the UFC, had a higher buy rate than Wrestle Mania XIX (the most popular Wrestle Mania of all time), held the light heavyweight title longer than anyone in the history of the UFC for 1,260 days, is a published author, made numerous appearances in a number of Hollywood films and television shows and to top it all off he's managed a successful crossover into the world of business as the CEO of a million-dollar brand - Punishment Athletics.

While Tito’s best known for his role as an iconic fighter who revolutionized the world of MMA, wresting was the sport to jumpstart his career as a professional fighter. Tito began wrestling his sophomore year at Huntington Beach High School. Under coach Paul Herrera, Tito placed 4th in the state high school championships as a senior. Following high school, he continued his wrestling career winning a California state junior college title for Golden West College. From there, he went on to wrestle at Cal State Bakersfield. It was there that he gained invaluable experience training under the tutelage of future NCAA and world champion Stephen Neal.

Tito later went on as a submission wrestler competing in the 2000 Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling tournament, in the under 99 kg division. He finished in third place after winning four fights before losing in the semi-final to Ayaz Qadir. During the tournament he defeated Matt Hughes, Mike van Arsdale, Rumina Sato and Rostyslav Borysenko.

Thanks to his sound training as a wrestler, Tito was able to make a smooth and somewhat prolific shift into the world of MMA where he went on to make history. His successful transition was an important one that would later pave the way for future wrestlers also looking to make crossover from one sport to the next. While Tito climbed the ranks of the UFC, he always kept wrestling near and dear to his heart returning to the sport as a professional wrestling referee in 2005 for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA).

The Outstanding American Honoree Award is given to someone who has competed in wrestling, and become highly successful in their profession and used discipline learned in wrestling to reach those levels. Only two other people have received the award since 1997 including Mario Lopez and Dan Henderson. The award itself is typically reserved for the rare and special few who have given a great deal to the sport with little recognition for their contributions. This is one of the wrestling community’s highest honors and special way of saying thank you to those who have dedicated their careers to paving the way for others. Following the induction, Tito’s name will be etched on a plaque at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Museum.

“Each year we recognize and thank individuals in CA for their contribution to wrestling. Tito Ortiz is a mentor to many young men and women who now, through his efforts, realize that they too can succeed from any level of society if they apply themselves. In addition, there are nine individuals being honored and recognized who will receive a Lifetime Service award. These individuals are being honored for their countless years of coaching and/or officiating. Each have excelled in their position by giving of themselves for over twenty years by providing positive leadership and mentoring to thousands of competitors. The Lifetime Service Honorees are the following: Oren Breeland, Patrick Cadwallader, Don Cawthon, Paul Clementi, Andrew Harris, Thomas Hazell, John McCarthy, Delmar Schwartz and Walt Romanowski, ”said Dan Dierdorff Chair of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, CA Chapter.

Tito's son Jacob, will accept the award in-person on behalf of his father as Tito will out of the country. At the age of nine, Jacob is already proving to be an accomplished wrestler winning most, if not all of his matches. Although he has high hopes of following in his father's footsteps, Tito is adamant on him pursuing his education first and foremost.

Tito’s induction into the Wrestling Hall of Fame comes at an interesting time in his professional career. On July 7th, 2012, millions will tune-in to see Tito duke it out in what will likely be his final fight in the UFC. It's a highly anticipated trilogy match against Forrest Griffith. Whether or not Tito will make a return to wrestling via the WWE remains to be seen. One thing, however, is for sure. Win, lose, or draw - Tito’s got the heart of a lion both in and out of the ring. His vast accomplishments and dedication has made him an outstanding role model not only in the world of wrestling, but for the entire athletic community. Clearly, the best is yet to come from this legendary fighter.

“If it wasn’t for collegiate wrestling I wouldn’t be the man I am today," said Tito Ortiz.

About the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum:
America's shrine to the sport of wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum is a focal point for preserving the heritage of the sport, celebrating new achievements and encouraging the youth of our land to aspire to lofty goals. The Hall of Fame portion of the building trumpets the legends of great athletes, coaches and contributors, so that we may understand the reasons for their success, recognize their sacrifices and build upon their traditions. The Sport's Only National Museum features an array of sculptures, photographs, banners, plaques, medals, trophies, uniforms and other memorabilia. The Hein Library houses a growing collection of books, films and videos. The Wall of Champions lists more than 5,000 names of wrestlers who have won national championships or have represented the United States on Olympic, Pan America or World teams.
For more information please visit: http://nwhof.org/

About The California Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame:
The Board of Governors of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum established the State Chapter program in 1993. The purpose is to pay tribute to those coaches, officials and contributors who represent the best qualities of what the sport of wrestling has to offer and who share those characteristics with young people day in and day out.

The purpose of our annual banquet is to honor and recognize those individuals who have made such a vital impact upon our sport in our community and in our State.

For more information and or to purchase a ticket to the banquet please contact Chairman Dan Dierdorff dandierdorff(at)cox.net or send a $65 check to Dale Deffner 5921 Kenbrook Drive Huntington Beach, CA 92648. The check should be made payable to Ca NWHOF. You can also make a donation for any of the honorees.

Media Inquiries:
Shannon Donnelly
310-300-0950 x312

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