Pinay jiu-jitsu champ fighting for sport recognition, support

SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. – It may have been her superb jiu-jitsu skills that put the world championship in Meggie Ochoa’s possession, but for the 25-year-old, the medal is a symbol of Filipinos and sports fans uniting for a cause. Ochoa won her second straight international Brazilian jiu-jitsu federation world title in California, and both times, the community had supported her.

With no government funds and limited corporate sponsorships, Ochoa has been turning to crowd funding through www.makeachampion.com to help pay for expenses when she and her teammates compete.

She managed to raise over $2,300 this for year’s International Brazilian Jiu-Jistu Federation world championships in Long Beach. “I’m more motivated. It’s not pressure, but I just want to win for everyone,” she explained.

Ochoa is familiar with philanthropic causes. The mixed martial arts enthusiast left her post with the ABS-CBN Foundation’s Bantay Kalikasan program as she took her jiu-jitsu training seriously.

Her goal is to win five world titles at five belt levels. With world titles now in two levels, she believes she can help the sport grow in the Philippines and make enough of an impact to encourage the government to begin recognizing the sport. Jiu-jitsu doesn’t receive government support because it is not an Olympic sport.

“It hasn’t been organized yet with a structure in where the government can provide funding. For me, these wins can push that structure in the future. I won’t wait for that day, so I’ll use crowd funding, and with these titles, I can hopefully show the potential of Filipinos in this sport,” she explained.

Ochoa wasn’t the only winner from the Philippines, Mark Oliver Ho Co also won gold in the white belt division.

You may contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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