It’s been a hectic weekend for athletes from the City of God Favela who have been busy working to shatter any and all negative stereotypes in respect to growing up and living in one of Rio’s most notorious favelas.
Gabi Pessanha, a brown belt from Infight team/ TMD house social project has been making her way around the world and smashing the brown and black belt division at the Abu Dhabi Grand slam tour while she waits out her IBJJF suspension time for being graduated too early. Pessanha recently received her brown belt after winning double gold at the 2018 Worlds.
Meanwhile, back in the favela, the kids on her team are looking to follow in her footsteps. They all dream of fighting and winning at the famed pyramid in California. They have been hustling and fundraising and training hard to make things happen.
Last Friday, Marcio de Deus the head instructor at the TMD House Social project, and 25 students from the project packed onto a bus and made their way to compete in Brazilian Nationals in Sao Paulo. This is a monumental accomplishment when you take into consideration that the cost of registration, transportation, and accommodations is well over the minimum wage that most families make in a month!
But no child was left behind! Professor Marcio made sure that every single kid that wanted to go was able to get on the bus! In fact, Marcio seems to have a magic touch with arranging travel. There are over 20 students from the City of God favela that have been able to secure American visas, 15 of which are already confirmed to come to compete in Worlds this year!
While the kids were competing in Brazilian Nationals and Gabi was receiving awards in Abu Dhabi, black belts Luciano Alexis and Victor Lima were also putting in work on the mats in New York.
Victor took 3rd place in the black belt medium-heavy division in a Gi and 2nd place in the open weight NoGi division. Unfortunately, Luciano was the lone man in the rooster weight division. When they’re not competing, both of them work as refs and ring coordinators so that they can save money and support their teammates back in Brazil.