Former gang leader devoted to youth crime prevention through MMA fighting

MMA teacher serves as mentor to Orlando-area children

ORLANDO, Fla. – A Central Florida man is using mixed martial arts as a way to mentor, heal and keep kids away from video games and off the streets.

Many of Rubén Saldaña's MMA students come from broken homes or don't have a role model in their lives to inspire them, which he said is similar to how he grew up.

"My story is no different than any other kid that was drawn into gangs," Saldaña said. "I didn't have a father figure in my household. The streets became my dad."

Saldaña was once known as the leader of one of the most infamous Miami street gangs -- the International Posse -- in the '80s and '90s. But after serving 19 years in prison, Saldaña found his true calling: mentoring kids through MMA fighting.

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He said it's helping children avoid going down the same path as he did.

"I paid penalties behind that, so we don't want this for other kids, and this sport is a saving grace. People can say what they want, and everybody that criticizes this sport is because they've never been to a show, they don't take the time that you two have to come out here to see it, to experience it -- the change that's done with the kids," Saldaña said.

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