MMA fighter and philanthropist Curtis Hembroff teams up with Tanka Bar

February 27, 2011 2 Comments

MMA fighter and philanthropist Curtis Hembroff teams up with Tanka Bar



Curtis Hembroff, an Alaska mixed martial arts fighter, has been named one of Native American Natural Food's first Tanka Warriors. The Tanka Warriors are a team of independent promoters who are using their fame and notoriety to help spread the word about Tanka Bar and its battle for active, healthy lifestyles.

In his first appearance as a Tanka Warrior, Mr. Hembroff will be appearing March 9 at a Tanka Tasting at the Courtyard Cafe on the University of California Santa Barbara campus.

About Curtis Hembroff


Mr. Hembroff knew he was a competitor at an early age.

Growing up in Kenai, AK, which is located next to the Kenai River on the Kenai Peninsula where the members of the Kenaitze Tribe reside, Mr. Hembroff played every sport he could year-round. From age 5 through high school, he was wrestling with Stan Stephenson, a highly decorated wrestler in Alaska, as his coach.

During that time, he saw his first Ultimate Fighting Championship videos and said he was blown away.

"I idealized it and I knew that's what I wanted to do," he said. "When it comes to competition, there are no other outlets to be as competitive as MMA. It's a high-pressure situation, which I have not found another outlet for. Getting in the cage -- you can't really reproduce it [that feeling]."

With his coach helping him build a solid foundation for the sport, Mr. Hembroff, now age 31, is growing his Mixed Martial Arts career but not without a little difficulty. He attended the College of Charleston School of Business and Economics in South Carolina, a state where the sport is illegal and there are no competitive gyms that support the events. He spent his summers back in Alaska working in commercial fishing with his family and pursuing his MMA training. Even though he competed several times in 2008 with the Alaska Fighting Championship, he didn't stay as involved while finishing college.

After he graduated with a degree in Finance, Mr. Hembroff moved back to Alaska and now calls Anchorage home. At Frontier Vale Tudo MMA training center, he is getting back into the sport he is passionate about.

"I'm training more and focusing more on a strong effort in this direction and how far I want to go competitively ... and I want to go pretty far. I want to see how good I can be, but I don't have any fantasies of being the best fighter," he said. "I want to see how good I [personally] can be. Practice pushes me beyond what I never could push myself. It's a whole different level of mental and physical challenge I really enjoy."

After college, Mr. Hembroff chose to work on projects promoting self-determination. He said he wants to help people become more self-empowered. His background includes overseeing the Social Enterprise Department of Cook Inlet Tribal Council and working with Native youth.

He also works with Native artists through his involvement with Two Spirits Gallery in Anchorage and consults through Curtis Hembroff, LLC.

"The bulk of my consulting work has been around the development of a Native Community Development Financial Institution," he said. "Specifically, I am working to create a microenterprise loan fund that will support Native small business growth and creation."

A member of the Kenaitze Tribe on his mother's side of the family and Lakota on his father's side, Mr. Hembroff hopes to continue to improve the physical, mental and spiritual health of Native peoples.

Because of his desire to help the Native community, he has become passionate about Tanka Bar and has become a public supporter. Mr. Hembroff has begun traveling with the marketing team from Native American Natural Foods to food shows and other events to promote the Tanka brand.

It also doesn't hurt that Mr. Hembroff was featured in Cosmopolitan magazine's "2010 Bachelor Blowout" as "Alaska's Sexiest Man." He has a bit of a following from the article along with his MMA fans.

"It was quite an honor, and most of the guys they selected [for Cosmo] were really good guys. There was a lot of philanthropy; a lot of the guys were not just pretty faces and were nominated because they were good people," he said. "It opened a lot of doors in my personal life and a lot more women approach me."

Now in his role this year representing what it is to "Be Tanka," Mr. Hembroff wears boxing trunks sporting the Tanka Bar logo while he competes and even has a lot of his friends wearing Tanka Bar T-shirts.

"I really like the product. And I think Mark [Tilsen] is amazing and what Tanka is doing as a mission is amazing. The 'being Tanka' and lifestyle is really cool," Mr. Hembroff said. "It's warrior food -- food you eat before going to battle or hunting. It's what I need nutritionally and I feel good about promoting it."

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