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Leuzinger High School Class of 1981 - Latest News

02-03-2005 - Roland Sarria '81 - Martial Arts Fight Promoter


Roland Sarria '81

 His Life Struggles...

& Success as Martial Arts Fight Promoter


Roland was born 1963 in Havana Cuba to Juan and Martha Sarria. At age one, his mother Martha became very sick, and died as a result of her illness.  At age four, he left Cuba and Fidel Castro for the pursuit of freedom and liberty in the United States.  He landed on the shores of America with his father Juan and his brothers and sisters Juan Jr., Manuel, Martha, and Rosario.  

The Sarrias first settled down in Culver City, California.  A welfare complex called The Mar Vista Courts became their first place of residence.  Gang activities, drug deals, and murders were an unfortunate daily part of life.  

A blow was dealt to the family when his father moved out, got remarried, and started a new family of his own.  This hardship would be difficult to overcome.  No father.  No regular meals on the dining table.  New clothes were a luxury they couldn't afford.  They all made due with what they had.

The free lunch program at school guaranteed Roland at least one nurishing meal a day.  He earned money by picking fruits and selling them door-to-door, and mowing lawns and carrying the trash to the curb.  He got his first job delivering newspapers for 'The Santa Monica Evening Outlook' in 1974.  It was a blessing.  He now had enough money for food and clothes.  His first big purchase was a television set for the home... so that he could watch TV shows like 'The Brady Bunch' and 'Happy Days'.    

Later that year, the family moved to a middle class neighborhood in West Los Angeles.  For three years, he would learn about the have's and have not's and the reality of being poor.  He felt different from the middle class kids who rode new bikes, wore nice clothes, and had parents that drove their kids to school.  Despite feeling different, he found friends in his new environment.  He took fishing and camping trips with them.  He had a great time playing little league baseball with them.

During the summer of 1976, his family moved to Lawndale, California. He attended Will Roger's Intermediate, and graduated from the 8th grade in June of 1977.

Leuzinger High School would be the place where his love of sports grew.  First football.  Then, basketball.  Then baseball.  He played all three sports during his first three years at Leuzinger.  In his senior year... he chose to play football only.  During that final year, he was voted Ocean League Defensive Player of The Year along with making the California Prep All Star Team.  

Because of his position as defensive nose guard and being only 5' 9' and 155 lbs, he was not sought after by college recruiters.  He decided that he would play for El Camino College which is one of the leading junior colleges in the Southern California.  This institution had a football powerhouse with a rich tradition.  During his first year, he started off as a 4th string player.  By graduation, he was a two time All American junior college football player.  

Though being the best defensive player again, college recruiters overlooked his abilities because of his size.  It was difficult watching his peers getting scholarships to 4 year colleges and universities. Without the guidance of parents or coaches, he felt lost and gave up his dreams.

From 1983 to 1990, Roland drifted from job to job.  A steel worker. An airline ramp agent.  An express delivery carrier.  Just another person trying to make it and survive.  

In 1990, he opened up an entertainment business promoting Latino, Black, White, and Asian clubs in Southern California.  Planning and developing events was enjoyable and fun.

In 1994, his life would change forever when he was introduced to Rickson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.  His one-to-one training with Rickson Gracie was his greatest thrill.  He met and trained with other interesting people on a daily basis.  This would lead to Roland's opening a Brausa Academy (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) in Scottsdale, Arizona where he would teach others this martial art.

With his experience promoting nightclubs, he had a new dream and a new vision in 1998.  It was to promote events related to the martial art that Roland loved.  He overcame the hurdles of not having his event recognized as a sport by the state.  He worked hard come up with the money to finance his business.  A location was found to hold his fight events.  Flyers and posters were created and distributed which advertised for Jiu-Jitsu fighters.  Many people applied.  They came from all walks of life.  Roland's students from The Brausa Academy and his personal friends became his staff.  

Opening night was on November 24, 1998 at a nightclub called 'Rodeo Nights' in Phoenix, Arizona.  The event drew a crowd of 800 people, and continued to do so at all events thereafter.  Fights were held once every five weeks for three years.  

In 2001, the state of Arizona approved the competitions as a professional sport's event.  Today, Rage in the Cage is held at 'The Dodge Theatre' in Phoenix, Arizona.  This venue has a capacity of over 5000.  The event draws an average of 2500 spectators.


His personal Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu achievements...

• 1994 California state Champion
• 1997 International Champion
• 1997 2nd Copa Pacifica
• 1998 California state Champion
• 1998 2nd Copa Pacifica
• 1998 Arizona state Champion
• 1999 California state Champion
• 2000 2nd Grapplers Quest
• 2004 1st Grapplers Quest

I’m a Black belt in Jiu-jitsu.   I’m a trainer of martial artists, and a promoter of 'Rage in the Cage' and 'Desert Quest Championship' events.  I have been trained by the best.  I have trained with the best. I have trained some of the best fighters.


Wanna learn more about Rage In The Cage events?  
I'd like to give thanks to my family, friends, fans, and My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Roland Sarria

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