No. 1-Rated Female Fighter
Did you know that the No. 1-Rated Female Mixed Martial Artist (MMA) in the World calls Salem County home? Born in Cherry Hill in 1978 and raised in Woodstown, NJ, Tara LaRosa is a professional female mixed martial artist who previously fought in BodogFIGHT. She was the first and final BodogFIGHT 135 lbs champion. She is considered one of the top female Mixed Martial Arts fighter holding wins over other top Mixed Martial Arts fighters including of note Amanda Buckner and Kelly Kobald.
Tara’s pro record is an impressive 18 wins, 1 loss and 0 draws. She is 5’6” tall and currently weighs in at 125 lbs. In 2009, Tara took home 2 gold medals, a silver and a bronze at the World Grappling Championships held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She is heading to Poland at the end of March to represent the USA in the 2010 FILA World Grappling Championships.
Early in life, Tara was inspired by mixed martial arts movies and says that movies with Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme were the beginning of her interest in the sport. But it was Tara’s father, Carmen LaRosa, with whom she credits with making her such an intense competitor. Tara said her father taught her to never give up – no matter what.
“When I was about 10 years old, our family farm was facing some serious financial problems and it was a huge strain on our family. The farming industry was bad – the combination of a recession and several years of drought caused many family farms to lose everything. My family had to file for bankruptcy and it took 8 years for them to pay it back, but my Dad would not give up. He decided to move into green housing and he saved our farm. He taught me to never give up. He is amazing. He is my hero.”
The rewards from the sport and from Tara’s small town upbringing are obvious – Tara is confident, fit and charming. Though she may be tough in the ring, she is friends with most of the women she competes against. “For me, fighting isn’t about fighting – it is about competing. It’s about testing myself and not giving up. I compete in everything I do. It’s who I am.”
Tara played field hockey, basketball and softball in grade school and high school and field hockey for Catawba College in Salisbury, NC (96-2000). In college, Tara trained and competed in judo and then went on to compete in jiu-jitsu and submission grappling tournaments, quickly accelerating to training in MMA, or Ultimate Fighting.
Tara began training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai kickboxing in Sept. ’01 at Team ROC (http://www.teamroc.net/), a Royce Gracie affiliated school. The head instructor, Greg Thompson, was a black belt under Royce and the next highest ranking instructor was Aitor "Spenser" Canup, a brown belt, and Tara’s main instructor. Tara received her purple belt in Oct. ’05 from Royce Gracie, and was brought on as an assistant instructor at Team ROC Fayetteville, in NC. During her time in Fayetteville, Tara also taught Modern Army Combatives and is level 2 certified.
After Jan ’09 TKO vs. Alexa Davis in Atlantic City, NJ
(left to right) Tara LaRosa, Mom & Dad, Tiffany Larosa
In April 2006, Tara moved to the Pacific Northwest to concentrate on her MMA career. She trained and fought out of Yakima MMA in Yakima, WA., owned by Rich Guerin. In April 2007, Tara moved to Boca Raton, FL., where she trained for 6 months at Charles McCarthy’s ATT affiliated school.
Tara returned to her hometown in September 2007 after the death of her boyfriend SFC Adrian M Elizalde who was killed when an IED hit his truck on Thursday August, 23rd 2007 in Al Aziziyah, Iraq. He was 30 years old.
Tara is currently a member of a MMA team in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Fight Factory, coached and lead by Steven Haigh that had produced Eddie Alvarez, who also fought for BodogFIGHT.
To learn more about Tara, visit her website, http://www.taralarosa.net/.