Posts Tagged ‘Mountain Harvest Market’

MMA Champ to Focus on Idyllwild Youth

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Willy is a 4-time MMA Champ. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Idyllwild Fitness Center reopened three weeks ago. The new owner, Willy Latzo, is a four-time mixed martial arts world champion, who bought the gym for two reasons: To help him train for his next fight, and to help the young people of Idyllwild.

If you Google Willy Latzo, a million hits turn up. A self described, “Champion of the Hearts,” Willy also has many fight videos on You Tube. He is the European Champion in Muay Thai Boxing and a German champion in boxing. in 2000, he retired undefeated with 268 fights.

He said that fighting allowed him to travel the world, and see the better part of life. He has a trainer, and agent, and lots of people who work for him. He’s owned many gyms before, including in Berlin, where he’s from, and in Los Angeles.

Yet, Willy ended up in Idyllwild. Why?

“It was time to buy a gym, and we looked at Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and New Jersey,” and, surprisingly, Idyllwild came up, and we thought, ‘That’s brilliant!'” Willy said, from his office with only one muscle poster on the wall.

At 6 foot, 2 inches, and 255 pounds, Willy is a formidable force. Although he was wearing a sweatshirt and pants, it was hard to see his muscles. Granted, it’s wintertime in Idyllwild, but it was surprising how bundled up he was, and how little he wanted to talk about himself, his championships, his lifestyle, and physique.

“This gym is not about making money,” Willy began. “It’s about potential.”

He knows Hulk Hogan and other famous celebrities personally and wants to bring them to Idyllwild. He wants to help generate some excitement about fitness for the teenagers of Idyllwild.

“It’s too early yet,” Willy said. “We just opened up this month, but in the Spring, I’d like to start working on some events that focus on youth and fitness.”

He said that he’s met a lot of teenagers who are hanging in the streets with nothing to do.

“Some have come in here smelling of vodka,” Willy said. “I’m not here to judge, but who is taking care of the youth?”

“We need to help and show courage,” Willy added. “We should not look away.”

As a father of two teenagers, he knows how challenging it can be. He has a son who is 15 years old and a daughter who is 13 years old.

But he believes that fitness and fighting helped him develop character growing up in Berlin.

His parents are originally from Turkey, and moved to Germany for a better life. Both were nurses who worked hard, sometimes 16 to 20 hours a day.  However, his father died at age 49 of cancer.

“I think he was heartbroken because he couldn’t go home,” Willy said. “He never returned to Turkey.”

Willy started fighting at age six, and learned quickly. He was teaching his first karate class at age 9. His lessons lead him to fights all over the world.

Willy and wife Ramona at their Idyllwild Opening. Photo Jeffrey Taylor.

“I think I was born to fight,” he said.

During the discussion, he pointed out that fighters aren’t angry. They don’t hate their opponents. Mixed martial arts is a sport like any other. It’s about training, strategy, and outwitting your opponent.

“The kids ask me, ‘Isn’t it violent?” Willy said. “It’s not violent. You need to honor your enemy.”

Yet, over the years, Willy has seen the underside of the sport. The drug abuse, and the pressure of sponsors. You find out that your opponents are fighting for the love of money, and not the sport.

“And then one day, you wake up in a hotel room, and you don’t know your own name,” he said.

At age 40, Willy is not delusional about his career as a fighter. He has broken every bone in his body and his nose 16 times. He can’t feel any sensation in his legs anymore. It’s not because he’s been kicked too much, but he wanted to deaden the nerves there. In an ancient method, he used a rolling pin to force his nerves away from the bones.

“It’s great for fighting, but bad in your personal life,” Willy said.

In Idyllwild, he feels closer to the universe. He and his wife, Ramona, love it here. The other night, he walked home in the light of the full moon and was rejuvenated.

He spoke about Lin Long, a woman from China, who lived in the woods for 10 years after she was banished from her town. She developed her own fierce fighting style from the animals.

He said when he went to Japan, he was the chosen student.

“I am the grand master,” Willy stated.

He is looking for another student to learn his martial arts secrets from him. But it wasn’t clear if it would be a boy or girl.

(from L) Jeffrey Taylor with Sara Karloff. Background art by Marcia Gawecki.

“He or she will come to me,” Willy said.

He also spoke of his belief in Zen Buddhism, and how a worm could be his grandmother, so he must be careful where he steps in the woods.

All in all, Willy is a champion. His experience as a personal trainer has already shaped one local into a true believer.

“In just three weeks, I can see definition in my chest,” said Jeffrey Taylor, of Green Cafe Internet.

Like many people who work behind a desk, Jeffrey was putting on weight because he couldn’t ride his bicycle in the snow. Willy started focusing on his stomach.

“For most men, that’s the weakest part,” Willy said.

After an hour workout, Jeffrey would complain that it hurt to laugh. But he kept with it, and soon he started to see an improvement.

“I looked in the mirror, and I’m starting to see a six pack,” Jeffrey said with a grin.

He’s not talking about beer, but abdominal muscles that stick out when you’re in great shape.

Yet, Jeffrey is quick to point out that Idyllwild Fitness is not geared for bodybuilders.

In Idyllwild, Willy feels closer to the universe

“I’m not trying to build muscle,” he said. “I just want to get back into shape.”

Besides toning, Willy talks to Jeffrey about his diet.

“He said no more chips, wine and pasta,” Jeffrey said.

For variety, Jeffrey couples his workouts with salsa aerobics, which is also offered at the gym on Tuesday nights.

As for the young people of Idyllwild, many think it’s cool that we have a MMA Champ living among us.

David, who has lived in Idyllwild his entire life, said that he met Willy when he first arrived.

“He knows karate, and is tough, but very spiritual too,” David said. “He’s looking for his next student.”

At least six teenagers are really glad that Idyllwild Fitness reopened its doors. They work for Willy and get to see him on a regular basis.

Idyllwild Fitness offers fitness machines, free weights, a sauna, along with aerobics classes to suit your lifestyle. Monthly individual rates are $40, but funfight, Willy’s high energy workouts with the punching bag, are more.

For more information, call (951) 659-5000 or visit www.idyllwildfitnesscenter.com. Idyllwild Fitness Center is located in Strawberry Creek Shopping Center, just below Mountain Harvest Market. Enter on the lower level.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Caballero Sells Eucalyptus Wood in Idyllwild

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Samuel Perez, 77, from San Jacinto, shows off his roping skills while he sells hard wood in Idyllwild

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Most weekends, you’ll see him in a cowboy hat throwing his rope next to his truck full of wood near Strawberry Creek Plaza in Idyllwild. Lean and handsome, he looks like an extra in a Hollywood movie. But he’s the real McCoy.

Samuel Perez, 77, came by train to the San Jacquin Valley from Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1961 with the U.S. Bracero Program, which brought in thousands of “strong-arm” contract laborers after WWII.

He said about 2,000 of them lived together on the farm and picked strawberries.

“It was hard work,” he said, shaking his head.

Since then, there have been better times for Samuel and his family. He has a new home in San Jacinto now, but the eucalyptus wood that he sells comes from his 3-acre ranch in Winchester which is now rented to another family. There’s only horses there now, but he used to buy and sell cattle at the San Jacinto Auction until the accident.

“I broke this bone,” he said in halting English, pointing to his femer bone on his thigh. “There are two pins in there.”

He also had his hip replaced.

Samuel sells a half cord of eucalyptus wood for $130 in Idyllwild

The accident happened when Samuel was herding cattle through a corral, and one of the steers panicked and gouged his leg.

Now he has two horses, a quarter horse named “Mr. Perez,” and an Andalusia named, “Napoleon.”

On weekends, he loads up eucalypus wood that he cuts from trees on his ranch (less than 18 inches in diameter) and comes up to Idyllwild. He charges $130 for about 1/2 cord and will deliver to any home here.

He has no regular customers, but would like to build up some clientele.

From September to October, he was coming up about twice a week, but in November, everything came to a halt.

“I wasn’t selling anything in November,” Samuel said.

He took December off, but was back in a different roping spot near Mountain Harvest Market on Saturday, Jan. 7. He looked like a vision standing in the sunlight with his cowboy hat and rope.

One Idyllwild resident offered to buy Samuel Perez's rope

Just then, an Idyllwild resident came up and asked how much he wanted for the rope.

“This one is not for sale,” Samuel explained. “I brought it from Guadalajara, and it cost me about $200, that I cut into pieces.”

He told the guy that he’d bring him another one next Tuesday.

It looked like regular rope to me, something that you’d buy by the yard at Forest Lumber. But cowboys know ropes, and both of these guys knew the true value of it. It will likely cost one as much as a truckload of wood.

Samuel will stack the wood for elderly women, he said, if they offer him a $10 or $20 tip.

“But not for the guys,” he said with a laugh. “They can stack it themselves!”

However, one elderly woman asked him to deliver the half cord of wood, and stack part of it near the front of the house. Then she told him to drive around to the back of the property and stack the rest of it.

“She was expecting too much,” he said.

The woman also had a big dog that was part wolf that she kept inside the house. When she wrote him the check, Samuel couldn’t wait to get out of there. He said the wolf-dog’s head came up to waist level.

Samuel will take cash or local checks for the eucalyptus hard wood. He’s up in Idyllwild most weekends, but you can reach him directly at (951) 692-2084.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Town Jazz Considered ‘Intimate’ Setting

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

At night under the stars with Town Jazz performersBy Marcia E. Gawecki

The first-ever Town Jazz event with Marshall Hawkins, a bassist who has played with the likes of Miles Davis, attracted about 250 attendees on Saturday night in Idyllwild, in spite of torrential rains and hail that dumped on the small mountain town hours before the event.

“It cooled things down, and we might get more people that we expect,” said Doug Yagaloff, from Mountain Harvest Market, one of the sponsors of the event.

He said the Idyllwild Round Table rented 500 chairs, just in case.

Tom and Karen Barnes from Arizona were walking around Idyllwild, and stopped at The Spruce Moose. A retired businessman and sax player, Tom came for the 18th Annual Jazz in the Pines event at Idyllwild Arts, but was also interested in learning more about Town Jazz.

Tom Barnes, a tenor sax player from Arizona, was interested in Town Jazz

“We’ve been coming to Jazz in the Pines since 1998,” Tom said. “But I’m interested in whatever Marshall Hawkins, who started the event, is doing.”

He thought the $10 ticket price was a good deal.

“I end up spending about $1,000 for this jazz weekend, including tickets, hotel stay, the patron dinner, and gas coming up from Arizona,” Tom said. “Ten dollars sounds pretty good.”

Although Saturday night was cool, and the stars were out, the jazz was hot. You could hear it from the streets.

Two friends of Marshall Hawkins’ came from Vista to support the event. One, a cellist who has played with Marshall onstage at Jazz in the Pines before, said that Town Jazz was a more intimate venue.

Kevin poses with Town Jazz T-shirts with Marshall Hawkins image, are available for $15 each.

“The musicians play very close to the audience,” the woman said. “You don’t have to get on a golf cart to get to the stage.”

Jeffrey Taylor, who owns Green Cafe internet, agreed that Town Jazz was more intimate.

“You can’t beat jazz at night under the stars,” he said.

Jessica Schiffman, a local book illustrator and volunteer for the evening, sat close to the stage and was impressed with the music.

“You can hear them performing their art, and you’re right there experiencing it with them,” she said.

She planned on volunteering the second night of Town Jazz, which will be held outside Jo’An’s on Sunday, August 28 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Tonight’s special guests for Town Jazz honoring Daniel Jackson include Yve Evans, and Roland Esquire Holmes. Musicians include: Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet, Bob Boss on guitar, Brett Sanders on drums, Mikan Zlatkovich on piano, Najite, African percussion, and Daniel Jackson on tenor and sax.

Marshall Hawkins played his bass last night with the groupand will play again tonight. After the last set Saturday night, Marshall thanked the musicians and the crowd for coming.

Tickets for tonight’s performance are $10 each and can be purchased at Mountain Harvest Market, The Spruce Moose and at the door. Marshall Hawkins T-shirts are $15 each and full-color event posters are $5. All proceeds go to benefit Marshall’s charity for jazz in the elementary schools, Seacrest Mojo.

For more information on Marshall Hawkins’ Town Jazz event, visit www.greencafe.com.

Published on: Aug 28, 2011 @ 7:24