With mixed martial arts action on a break due to the coronavirus pandemic, Trench Tech founder Cuki Alvarez is back to his first love—extreme sports.
Nowadays, Alvarez has been busy riding dirt bikes and jet ski, bringing back memories of the days when he traveled to Guam, Japan, the Philippines, and the U.S. mainland to compete in thrilling races.
“Growing up as a young child, I remember my late father, Ray Alvarez Sr., always surrounded us with thrilling sports. My dad flew hang gliders off cliffs, mountains, and hilltops. We followed him to all of his Hang Gliding excursions and competitions in California in the early ‘70s. Then in 1976, we moved to Guam and my dad opened a hang gliding and motorcycle shop in the village of Maite at this place called ‘The Red Barn.’ It was a huge barn-like building that you normally see at farms and ranches,” said Alvarez when asked how he got into extreme sports.
“Not many people know this, but it was in hang gliding that I got my very first taste of an extreme adrenaline rush when my dad took me tandem flying with him on his hang glider at age 5 years old off this place called Windward Hills in Apra Heights. After that thrilling experience, I knew, I would be an adrenaline junkie all my life,” Alvarez said.
From hang gliding, Alvarez got into motocross, jet ski, and off-road car racing, and even wake boarding.
“Since my dad also sold bikes, he got my brother and I our very first mini bike—a Suzuki RM 80cc. The RM80 was actually kind of big for my brother and I at the time so my dad had to take off the rear suspension and drop the front forks so we could reach the ground with our feet. He taught us how to control the gas throttle and release the clutch, and within a few minutes, we were riding solo around the village in Sinajana. All I remember is I did not want to get off the bike and I kept riding until it was dark,” he said.
The Alvarez family raced in motocross for 30 years (1997 to 2007), while Cuki also competed professionally in jet ski from 1989 to 1994. He joined the Lake Havasu City Arizona twice for the World Finals, raced and won numerous times in Guam and the Philippines, also topped international races in Thailand and Malaysia.
Alvarez also spent three years in off-road car racing and a little over a year in wake boarding.
“I also had a stint in off-road car racing in 1992. I raced at the world renowned Glen Helen National Raceway in San Bernardino, California and won the Mini Mag rail car division. I guess you could say my years as a MX racer transitioned easily over to the cars and it was a simple adjustment for me. Then I raced in Guam Smoking Wheels a couple times in 1993 and 1995. But I liked bikes better and gave up car racing in 1996. I might just do it again though for sure in the future,” Alvarez said.
“I also entered a couple of wake board competitions here on Saipan in 1999 and 2001. Since I was working at the beach as a boat captain, we used to wake board everyday after work, so my whole family and I became pretty good at wake boarding too.”
When asked if he tried doing regular sports, Alvarez said he played basketball for seven years.
“I did play basketball from 1993-1999 and even played in the CNMI All-Star Team for a season before injuring my knee in 1999 right before the Micro Games in Pohnpei,” the Trench Tech main man said.
While going to Guam for motocross races, Alvarez developed interest in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and that eventual led to him and his friends opening up Trench Tech in 2004.
“I got my very first taste of BJJ in 1998 when my cousin Peter introduced me to a few of his good friends who were practicing BJJ in Guam. I always made time to follow my cousin and watch him train with the guys. Naturally I was also interested since I was an adrenaline junkie, and MMA and BJJ just drew me in,” Alvarez said.
He had no experience in BJJ before, but tried taekwondo lessons when he was 7 years old.
“I always loved Bruce Lee and learning to fight was something I had big interest in. So on my trips to Guam for a race, which was always on a Sunday, my cousin Peter took me to a Jiu Jitsu No Gi Grappling competition on the Saturday before the race that I was competing in. I watched the whole event and fell in love with the art. So every time I flew to Guam I made sure to get some training on Fridays at their dojo and learned and honed my skill set in MMA before opening up Trench Tech officially in 2004,” he said.
Early this year, the Alvarez family went to Japan where Cuki found a new sport he would love to try again.
“My wife (Mari) booked a snow boarding vacation for our whole family and we went to Hokkaido at this ski resort in Niseko. My two sons, Shane and Alverick, had done snowboarding before in the states, but for the rest of us, it was all our very first time,” Cuki said.
The head of the Alvarez family maybe a newcomer, but he’s so used to traversing challenging courses that he ended up navigating the snow hills in Hanazono and The Grand Hirafu for 10 hours every day for four straight days.
“We fell in love with snow boarding. So even though we don’t have snow here on Saipan, if there’s a sport I’d like to endeavor in now, it would definitely be snow boarding. We learned pretty fast too. By Day 2, we were riding all the way from the top down to the bottom on beginner and intermediate slopes!”