Thursday, April 5, 2007

Roger Huerta continues his lifelong battle to the top

By Mike Chiappetta

Once you hear the story of Roger Huerta, it's almost impossible not to root for him. He was abandoned by his parents as a child, lived through a civil war in El Salvador, was homeless at an early age, and later taken in by a gang.

Most kids take things like a roof over their head for granted, but when Huerta didn't have one, he literally climbed up onto rooftops to sleep at night. He came to enjoy school not because of academics, but because it was a place to get at least two meals a day.

Yet no bitterness persists from his early struggles. Through an indomitable spirit and his own unwavering vision for a better future, Huerta found school his safe haven, a place where he could be a normal child with hope. He used his athleticism as a springboard to college, where he found mixed martial arts.

Today, he is 23 years old and a rising lightweight with his eyes on the championship. And his fight in Houston, Texas at UFC 69 will in some ways be a glorious homecoming. He spent most of his youth in the state and excitedly awaits his arrival in the octagon and being awash in the roar of the crowd.

Few fighters deserve their moment in the spotlight more than Huerta, who grew up a poor boy dreaming of nothing more than a family, a roof and a meal. It seems there were bigger plans for him, though, as 18,000 screaming fans will attest.

We spoke with Huerta recently about his life, his fight and his future.

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