Advertisement
  1. Arts & Entertainment

Look for Oldsmar's Reko Rivera on 'American Ninja Warrior' and YouTube

Reko Rivera of Oldsmar will compete in the Atlanta qualifier of American Ninja Warrior. He also went viral in a YouTube video of him doing the Ninja course in a dinosaur costume. Photo from NBC.
Published Jun. 7, 2016

Those watching American Ninja Warrior this week will see one of Tampa Bay's own swinging, leaping and climbing an obstacle course in hopes of achieving glory.

Reko Rivera of Oldsmar will be among those contending for a spot in the Atlanta qualifier, airing at 8 p.m. Wednesday on NBC. It marks his fifth season competing on the show, creating viral videos utilizing his Ninja Warrior skills in his free time.

Rivera, 30, said he was a fan of the original Japanese show Sasuke, and when he learned about the American version, decided to submit a video. He first competed in the show's fourth season in 2012.

"The first season was pretty intimidating when you get out there — the crowds, the lights, the audience, a hundred competitors watching you, your moves," Rivera said.

On the show, competitors in various cities try to complete an obstacle course in hopes of advancing to the final challenge — a four-stage course called Mount Midoriyama. To date, only two people have beaten the course, with only one winning the $1 million prize.

The show's seventh season last year was the closest he has gotten to reaching the finals in Las Vegas. In the Orlando qualifier, he finished in 16th place, putting him one spot away from the top 15, who advance to the finals in Las Vegas.

"Every season so far, I've increased my spot," Rivera said. "I was like the 30th, the 25th, then 16th, and then I'll have to see this year."

Last year, Rivera was also the man behind the dinosaur suit in a video called "American Ninja-Saurus" that went viral. In the video made by St. Petersburg's Brentwood Photography, he swings on bars, scales a rock wall and climbs a rope while contending with the tiny arms of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

He said he got the idea after seeing a friend who owned the outfit posting his own videos while wearing it.

"I was immediately like, 'I should do a Ninja Warrior in it,'" Rivera said.

The video currently has more than a million views on YouTube. Based on its popularity, Rivera appeared in a sequel called "Jurassic Parkour," which has almost a million YouTube views of its own.

The videos were filmed at Palmetto's LIVE Training Center and Longwood's Urban Ninja Parkour. Rivera said in order to train for the unique challenge of the show, he does a plethora of exercises including cross-training, calisthenics, rock-climbing and parkour, and has trained at 45 gyms in the country in the past four years.

"This year, I'm definitely hoping to make it to Vegas, the final spot," Rivera said. "It's a long time coming. We'll see what happens."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. BurgerFi builds its signature cheeseburger with two Angus beef patties, double American cheese, lettuce, tomato and house sauce. Courtesy of BurgerFi
    Ring in National Cheeseburger Day, watch Bad Religion play Jannus Live or laugh with YouTubers Drew Gooden and Danny Gonzalez.
  2. Two western lowland gorillas at Busch Gardens were part of the successful Budweiser ad campaign during Super Bowl XLI. Sim Sim, left, and Cenzoo, right, helped sell Bud Light. BUSCH GARDENS  |  Tampa Tribune
    Sim Sim’s claim to fame was a 2007 Bud Light commercial.
  3. Hoisin-glazed chicken meatballs. LORRAINE FINA STEVENSKI  |  Special to the Times
    They’re topped with a hoisin sauce, and can be baked or pan-fried.
  4. On Friday, Joella's Hot Chicken will debut the Southern menu its known for in Largo. Joella's Hot Chicken
    Best part? There’s a drive-through.
  5. A still image from Vice's "WTFlorida?!" episode on Paul Flart. Courtesy of Vice
    Short documentaries on Floridians like hurricane headbanger Lane Pittman and Polk security guard “Paul Flart” expand their stories.
  6. FILE - In this May 5, 2019, file photo Alex Trebek poses in the press room at the 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, Calif. Trebek said Tuesday, Sept. 17, that he’s had a setback in his battle with pancreatic cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy again. RICHARD SHOTWELL  |  Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
    After a short period of optimism when he stopped chemotherapy, his “numbers shot up” and doctors ordered him back on the treatment.
  7. Visitors ride the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster at Tampa theme park Busch Gardens, which has put its 2020 Fun Card on sale early. AP/Busch Gardens
    Buy your 2020 Busch Gardens or SeaWorld Fun Card and get a few months free, plus more sales for Florida residents.
  8. Larry Duran, a 12-piece Latin band, will perform at the Hispanic Heritage Festival of Hernando County Sept. 21 at the Lake House. Vivian Rivera-Hernandez
  9. Jimmy Buffett performed at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on June 6, 2017. JAY CRIDLIN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The quintessential Florida Man and his Coral Reefer Band hit town for the holidays.
  10. In this image taken from NASA video actor Brad Pitt, left, star of the new space movie “Ad Astra,” speaks from NASA headquarters in Washington, to astronaut Nick Hague abroad the International Space Station, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. AP
    In a televised call Monday, NASA astronaut Nick Hague answered Pitt — “absolutely” — getting a big laugh.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement