Pablo Martinez of Visalia is making a name for himself in the world of competitive eating.
He has twice been a contestant in the famous Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest at Coney Island, N.Y.
His next gutbuster will be the Hooters World-Wide Wing Eating Championship at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas.
That July 22 event offers thousands of dollars in prize money and is by invitation only to pros like Martinez, who is ranked No. 17 in the world by Major League Eating.
"People like playing golf — I like competitive eating," he said.
Martinez, 28, graduated from Redwood High School in 2003.
He is married with two children, went to college at Fresno State and is a licensed marriage and family therapist.
He got his start a few years ago by participating in a "food challenge" at Batter Up Pancakes in Fresno: eat a pancake the size of a pizza, a 12-egg omelette and a pound of potatoes in 45 minutes, and it's on the house.
"I did it within 36 minutes," he said.
To his surprise, the feat gained traction on social media. "Other competitive eaters started complimenting me," he said.
He joined the competition scene in Southern California and gained a regional reputation.
"It's a unique skill," he said. "Less than a half percent of the population has this skill."
A turning point was his showing in the qualifying event for Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest in St. Paul, Minn.
"I ended up taking first place with 29 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes," he said. "With that, you get a spot at the final in Coney Island."
At Coney Island, he downed 271/2 hot dogs last year for 10th place, and 17 this year for 12th place.
"The weather was bad, it affects the numbers," he said.
Martinez weighed 155 pounds when he started and now is 195 pounds, yet boasts a body fat percentage of only 13%. He works out almost daily at Evolutions gym in Tulare.
"You have to stay lean," he said.
LONDON: The Library for London project is making progress, with Dinuba Unified donating a portable classroom, and a site has been selected.
Robert Isquierdo, who grew up in the Tulare County community of 2,134, has made it a personal mission to open a library in his old hometown. He has collected 15,000 books.
Meanwhile, to raise the profile of London, he is organizing a 5K run there on July 27.
"This will be the biggest thing London has ever seen," he said. "We want the outside community to witness firsthand our beautiful community."
Fernando Cabada of Fresno — a marathoner and former Buchanan High athlete — will be the celebrity runner.
About 200 runners have signed up so far. There will be an adult 5K, child 5K and child 1K.
Information: www.libraryforlondon.com or (818) 482-8140.
RUIZ FOODS: Assembly Member Connie Conway of Tulare visited Ruiz Foods of Dinuba last week to deliver an Assembly resolution honoring the company for 50 years in business.
The company employs 2,500 and makes frozen Mexican food.
She also delivered a second resolution for Fred Ruiz, co-founder and chairman emeritus, honoring him for his community involvement and achievements.
In 1991, Ruiz and Ruiz Foods founded the Ruiz 4 Kids nonprofit group that has awarded more than $2 million in college scholarships.