My name is Gaston Reyno, and I’m a featherweight fighter hailing from Uruguay. There are only a handful of fighters out of Uruguay, and to be fighting under the Bellator banner is a dream come true for a kid that always wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. Since this is my first blog, I figured I’d use it to tell you a little about myself.
When I was 7-years-old, I loved the Ninja Turtles and the Power Rangers (I was obsessed with them), so my mom enrolled me in a taekwondo school –That was in 1994. I just loved everything about it, and took to it very well. I started competing soon after, and eventually found other martial arts.
When I was 16, I started kickboxing. At 17, I started Muay Thai. One thing led to another, and I started traveling around and competing all over the world. I went to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, basically all over South America, because American taekwondo is very popular there.
I won the Pan American championship in 2009, then I came here to America in 2010 to compete in the World Championship. That one is really huge; 60 rings, 20,000 competitors…it’s just crazy. I got first place in my division, and that was what really opened the doors for me in this country.
I went back to Argentina and won another tournament there, and later that year, they invited me to the Nationals (they do that one in the ESPN Sport Complex), and I took first place there. For the next six months I stayed here, just traveling to different cities on the competition circuit. I won every tournament and got first place in the Top 10.
That’s when I got my work visa. That’s a really big deal, being Uruguayan and getting a visa to stay here, because it’s a very difficult process. As soon as I got it, I didn’t even think about it, I just moved and started teaching and training. I had so many opportunities come my way. I went to China and Thailand (I won a title in Muay Thai there) and Australia –My travel schedule was crazy, and I loved every minute of it.
A guy that knew me from the taekwondo scene, Brian Davidson, invited me to Lee’s Summit, Missouri. I had no idea where that was, so I put it in my GPS and drove 16 hours (I was in North Carolina at the time) to see what this cage-fighting thing was all about.
I came here and started training with big name guys like James Krause and Brian Davidson. I loved it, and two weeks after that, I was fighting on the amateur circuit. Now, here I am, less than a week away from another Bellator MMA fight. I’m not a Ninja Turtle, but it’s as close as you can get.