CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Earlier this week we told you about Robert Villegas, a man who meant so much to the mixed martial arts community in Corpus Christi but who sadly passed away from Covid-19 last year. His wife Valérie created the Robert Villegas foundation and organized the first Combat Sports Festival on Saturday.
“The fact that everyone came out, everyone is very supportive, it means a lot to us,” said Robert Rodriguez, vice president of the Robert Villegas Foundation. “We started this to remember Robert Villegas. It looks like it will be an annual event.
The Combat Sports Festival consisted of demonstrations of several martial arts disciplines. Students of all ages participated and crowd participation was also encouraged.
Robert Villegas was experienced in several of these disciplines. The festival was able to bring together gymnasiums of all these disciplines under one roof. As Valerie looked around at what she was able to put together, she said he would have been proud.
“A lot of people coming out are already in the martial arts industry,” she said. “And initially we need all of us to come together. But over the years we can go to community schools, different places, bring in some of these kids.”
“It’s a good thing especially to honor my former trainer that I had who died of Covid,” said Mark Beuke, professional boxer and former student of Robert Villegas. “And it’s also a very good thing to bring the community together, especially for martial arts, boxing. Whatever kind of fighting style you give it.
Valerie said the day was about having fun with the kids and maybe a learning experience.
“What I think they get out of it is seeing other martial arts that they may not have been introduced to,” Beuke said. “Maybe they just want to go out and meet other gyms, meet other people.”
Robert Villegas was known for his teaching. He even taught students who might not have the means to pay for tuition.
Like Robert Villegas, the foundation is there to support children who cannot afford to pay for lessons. Valerie presented the Texas Style Wrestling Club with a scholarship to help one of their students. She plans to continue to provide coaches with scholarships to help their athletes.
“A lot of kids do national championships and things like that,” Valerie said. “They can’t afford to go there. These are the kids we want to help get there. To get them to the college level, to get to the national level. We want to help them get there.”
Many people who attended the festival not only paid the entrance fee, but made a donation to the Robert Villegas Foundation. A former employer of Robert Villegas, GP Transport, also surprised Valérie with a donation.
The Robert Villegas Foundation already plans to continue giving back to the martial arts community. They are hosting a Taekwondo and Brazilian Jui Jitsu tournament on March 26. You can find details about this on the foundation’s website.
If you’re interested in donating, you can also learn how on the foundation’s website.
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