It is hard to imagine a guy as good-looking and as nice as Rob Fukuzaki enduring blind dates. It is because KABC-TV's sports reporter and weekend sports anchor, and now, a founder of the Rob Fukuzaki Foundation for at-risk and disadvantaged youth, is nice, busy and shy. Who'd guess that a TV sports reporter in the entertainment capital of the world, who's interviewed such sports legends as Arnold Palmer, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky, whose voice requires a lifeguard be on-duty to prevent women from drowning in its depths?
"I am a wreck, especially around a really good-looking girl," confessed Rob. "I fold up." So, endure blind dates he does.
Everybody has some sister's friend or knows this "really terrific woman who'd be perfect" for him. Even legendary golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez wanted to fix Rob up - with his own daughter no less. Rob also endured a blind date for the Oprah Winfrey Show, as one of Ten Most Eligible Bachelors of TV News. ( Please note that the use of the word "endure" is my choice, not Rob's.)
Matchmakers like Oprah and Chi Chi, began their quest to get Rob married some four years ago, when Rob became Los Angeles' first Japanese American male TV news anchor. Born in Torrance, but raised in Honolulu since the age of three, Rob was used to seeing Asian faces on local TV. Rob dreamt of reporting sports in the City of Angeles, combining his love of sports with his admiration for heroes like Vin Scully and Chick Hearn.
Los Angeles is the second most competitive "market" in the country, behind New York. Knowing this, Rob left Hawaii to attend the University of La Verne, where he spent his four years honing his skills and "training" his voice. His efforts and competitive drive earned him La Verne's "Broadcaster of the Year" award for an unprecedented three years running, a feat that impressed his professors but angered a lot of rival classmates.
"When I graduated, my professor told me, 'We're very sad to see you leave, Rob, but I know a lot of students who are just as happy to see you leave," Rob said.
After graduating with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism in Radio and Television, Rob landed a job back in Honolulu at KXPW radio (later KSSK), as well as KFVE-TV. Rob then stepped closer to his dream as the weekly sports reporter and weekend sports anchor for five years at KITV, Hawaii's ABC affiliate station.
Since arriving in L.A., Rob has been overwhelmed and grateful for the support he has received from the Asian American community. He has been actively repaying in kind through community service, accepting as many requests and invitations as humanly possible.
"(Community Service) is such a rewarding and easy thing to do, and I honestly enjoy doing them," Rob says of the 30-plus community and charity functions he's done since 1997. "I try to attend as many (events) as I can, and I feel bad when I have to turn someone down."
As a popular guest speaker at schools, colleges, youth organizations and community functions, Rob is often questioned about becoming a sports journalist. He is flattered and honored by the attention he receives from the youth he meets.
"I have and still look up a lot of people and it has meant a lot to me and talk with my mentors," said Rob of his role-models like Scully, Hearn, Fred Roggin and Rick Dees. "Not too many people not only get their dream (job), but also meet and work with guys who they admired growing up. I know what it's like (starting out), so I try to set a good example when I'm out speaking."
Now, after four years of living his dream as a L.A. sports broadcaster, Rob is pursuing his vision of helping inner city youth through the Rob Fukuzaki Foundation. Rob sees the Foundation as an opportunity to continue and focus his community service efforts.
Some of the programs he hopes to introduce through the Foundation include mentor and internship programs, scholarships, and possibly sports clinics, equipment donation to sports leagues, or to simply take some kids to a Dodger game who may not normally have the opportunity to do so.
"You can never do enough to help the inner city youth," Rob said. "I don't expect to change the world (through the Foundation), but if I can do my part to help, then all the work will be worth it."
Rob already has endorsements from notable sports names, including Tommy Lasorda, Oscar De La Hoya and Rod Carew. He hopes to get the participation of such big names involved in the Foundation's programs.
Through the Foundation, Rob hopes to put some of his good fortune towards helping those who could use some. Even though he's been reporting sports as part of the KABC-TV's Eyewitness News team for four years, Rob doesn't take his success for granted.
"I'm fortunate to be given this opportunity to actually live a dream," Rob said. "I don't want to blow this opportunity, because I know how lucky I am."