ALAMOSA — The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) is proud to present an inspirational evening with Olympic Gold Medalist in Wrestling, National Wrestling Hall of Fame Member and UFC World Flyweight Champion Henry Cejudo.
He will speak to the community about perseverance, dedication, finding your passion and having pride in oneself on September 22 at the Alamosa High School gymnasium at 6 p.m.
This event takes place during September, which is Hispanic Heritage Month and a perfect time to honor Hispano Heroes Henry Cejudo and Frankie Sanchez. This event is free for all youth and those with student IDs. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with an adult entry fee of $5 to be collected at the door. All proceeds will go towards heritage area youth history fair scholarships. All students who compete in the regional history fair this year with a topic about local history will be eligible to compete for scholarship funds. SdCNHA will hand out five special awards to local recipients during the evening as well.
Cejudo grew up in south central L.A., the son of undocumented immigrant parents and the youngest of seven children. He grew up poor, and his father – who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction – was absent for large stretches of his life and passed away when Henry was only 20. Henry captured four high school wrestling state championships (two in Colorado, two in Arizona). He was awarded ASICS National High School Wrestler of the Year in 2006.
He participated in two Junior World Championships, placing fifth in 2005 and second in 2006. That same year, Henry became the first high schooler to win U.S. Nationals since USA Wrestling’s formation as the sport’s national body in 1983. Cejudo decided to skip wrestling at the college level and instead accepted an offer from USA wrestling to train at their main facilities in Colorado Springs. Following successful performances at the Pan American Games and Pan American Championships, Cejudo qualified for the 2008 Olympics in last place and was told he really had no shot at the gold. Not only did he win gold, but also at the time he was the youngest American to ever become an Olympic champion in freestyle wrestling.
In January of 2013 Henry announced his plans to begin training for a MMA career. He has had 13 professional wins and two losses. One loss was his first match up with Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson in 2016 for the Flyweight title. He lost the fight via TKO in the first round being dropped with a variety of strikes. Henry took this loss as a reason to train harder for the next two years in hopes of a rematch.
His nickname “The Messenger” comes from the belief that his success is a platform to spread a greater message: No situation is too difficult to overcome.
“You can accomplish anything that you dedicate yourself to. Think how many people struggle across the world, across the country. I know anything is possible if you set your mind, your body, your soul and your faith to it. MMA, fighting, winning the Olympics – it’s only a platform for me to help others. It’s just a tool,” Cejudo says. “I have a purpose and a meaning in life, and I have to fulfill that. Being a champion is great, but more importantly than that, you get to be an inspiration and a role model to other people.”
Henry has also authored the book “American Victory” that the Los Angeles Times called, “Compelling...American Victory represents the triumph of the human spirit.”
Also speaking at the event is Frankie Sanchez Sr., an alumni of Adams State, member of Team Cejudo and entrepreneur. Frankie Sanchez Sr. is a native of Colorado, and his family history traces back to the Spanish and Native Americans who settled in San Luis. He won six Colorado Golden Gloves Boxing Championships and after a great high school wrestling career he received a wrestling scholarship to Adams State. After competing in wrestling for five years at Adams State, Frankie turned professional in the sport of boxing. He fought 32 pro fights and competed for three professional championships that were televised on HBO, Showtime and Pay Per View Television.
After his professional sports career, Frankie used his college degree to enter into many different careers fields. He was a youth counselor, college recruiter, junior high and high school wrestling coach. He also did private security for movie stars such as The Karate Kid Ralph Machio and Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee.
In 2013 Frankie took a chance and followed his love and passion for food and giving back to others and purchased a used hot dog cart. His goal was to create and serve food that he grew up eating in Southern Colorado. His idea of serving customers tacos, burritos, nachos and quesadillas along with green and red chili and his sriracha ranch sauce has really taken off. His company North of the Border Grill is now one of the top food truck companies in Colorado. He now has two food trucks, seven food carts and a private restaurant in the Denver Tech Center.
His company is now partnered with four multi million dollar companies. Iheart radio, American Financing, 505 salsa and Flagship Food Group. His startup taco cart company that he established with $700 only five years ago and is only opened part time, is now selling between $500,000 and $1,000,000 per year.
Frankie’s goal was to always give back to his community and motivate others to become successful. In 2008 Henry Cejudo contacted Frankie Sanchez for assistance in putting together a fundraiser to help some of Henry’s family members travel to China to support him with his dream of becoming an Olympic champion. The fundraiser was a success and His family was able to travel to China and watch Henry shock the world and achieve the biggest accomplishment in his life.
After the Olympic Games in 2008 Frankie and Henry traveled across the USA visiting different schools, churches, bookstores and colleges offering motivational speeches and wrestling camps.
On August 4 Henry Cejudo once again made history and upset the pound for pound greatest fighter of all time, Demetris Johnson, to become the first ever Olympic and UFC champion. After celebrating a victory tour across the world in August, the next stop is here in Alamosa to attend the Hispano Hero’s event hosted by the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area.
Both Henry and Frankie are excited to return to the SLV where the journey to inspire others started in 2008. They love the support from the SLV and hope that with the new stories and experiences they have had and that they will share with you at this event that they can motivate people to go out and accomplish anything they want. They both believe that hard work, dedication and sacrifice is the key to success. They are both living proof that no matter where you come from or how many obstacles you have to cross, anything is possible.
The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) was established by Congress in 2009 as being an important and unique part of the story of the founding of America. It is richly layered with stories of people, their traditions and arts, their histories and breathtaking landscapes. SdCNHA, which is a non-profit 50s located in south-central Colorado and covers more than 3,000 square miles of the San Luis Valley including Alamosa, Costilla and Conejos counties; the Great Sand Dunes National Park; and the Alamosa, Baca and Monte Vista Wildlife Refuges. The mission of SdCNHA is to promote, preserve, protect, and interpret its profound historical, religious, environmental, geographic, geologic, cultural, and linguistic resources. These efforts will contribute to the overall national story and engender a spirit of pride and self-reliance.
SdCNHA would like to thank sponsors that help make this event possible: Colorado Trust, Alamosa County Local Marketing District, Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton,
Alamosa State Bank, La Jara Pharmacy Health Mart Center, San Luis Valley Brewing Company, Nino’s del Sol, Alta Fuels, VinRock Media, Chavez Southwest Market,
Alpine Electric, Grizzly MMA and the Zebra 97.1
For more event info and information on youth history scholarships visit www.sdcnha.org or find us on Facebook at Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area.