Mario Stefan, an athlete from Luanda Angola, hasn’t been able to get into the gym to teach and train like he normally would but he has been managing to get in some clandestine training with his friends.
Stefan is a purple belt under Master Pakissi from GFteam Angola, but he also trains MMA with Angolan Top Team and is a black belt and instructor of Traditional Jiu-Jitsu at Bison Tample (We’ll talk more about that later, but you can see clips of it incorporated into this video).
In the video below, you can check out athletes from Angolan Top Team that have been meeting up in plazas around Luanda to get in some pad work.
Gyms in Luanda are still closed and meetings of large groups are banned in public areas, the athletes from Angolan Top Team are being careful to stay out in open spaces and avoid police who have been roughing up residents for not wearing masks.
Police kill a man in Luanda while detaining a group for not wearing masks.
It’s a risk that they run, and they are definitely worried, but martial arts is the only career that some of them are prepared for and they can’t let COVID jeopardize their ability to stay physically ready to work once the world opens back up.
As African athletes, they already face a number of financial barriers to make a name from themselves whether it’s in BJJ or MMA, a dream that can only be accomplished by traveling and competing in other continents. Now COVID has forced them to take risks and find creative ways to stay mentally and physically focused on their dreams.
This video is dedicated to António Domingos Vilola who was fatally shot on May 9th by the police for not wearing a mask.