With almost 3,000 athletes registered, it would be only natural that the 2015 Pan had a lot of stories taking place on each one of the 12 mats.
Here’s one of the most touching one of them.
Bruno Paulista, aka Mamute, is a black belt under Alexandre Souza, and the leader of Mamute Jiu-Jitsu, in Anaheim, California.
Up until 2010, he was an active competitor both in Jiu-Jitsu and MMA, but all that changed on April 23 of that year.
A slippery road on a evening in Florianopolis, Brazil, made Bruno’s car slip off and hit a light pole, which fell on his car and hit his head.
The injury to his skull was no joke, as Bruno recollected in a interview with GRACIEMAG, four months after the accident: “My first day, the doctors gave me a 30% chance of survival. My second day, they gave me a 50%, my third day, they gave me 70%, and on my fourth day, they gave me a 95% chance.”
Thanks to his strong health due to being so active and watching his diet carefully, Bruno was able to recover.
Little by little he returned to his normal life, first walking, then teaching classes and eventually training, but one thing was still missing – competing.
A no-gi world champion in 2007, Bruno knew that was one last thing he needed to do to have his whole life back just the way it was before April 23, 2010.
Saturday, March 14, 2015, was the day it all came together.
Jessica Schumacher, Bruno’s girlfriend, sent GRACIEMAG an email message sharing the emotions of that day.
“It has been almost 5 years since his horrible car accident, which was obviously life changing, so it is impossible for us to forget. For the past few months I have watched him start to get his body back in shape and back to training. I watched him struggle to get out of bed in the morning; both because he was sore and because it was early. I encouraged him when he limped around in pain and covered him with a blanket when he fell asleep sitting up in a chair talking to me. I stopped training as often as I normally do so he could come home to a meal I already made for him. I listened to his stories about how training went…what he had a hard time with, what was getting better. He trained, taught, ate and slept. That was it, we had no extra time.”
All that effort paid off when the moment came, as Jessica tells us: “It was all worth it when I watched him bow to step onto the mat. My nervousness went away when he swept his opponent with his beautiful guard. I was overwhelmed seeing all these awesome black belts taking the time to congratulate their friend on doing what it takes to get back on the mat after what he went through. He is not 100% back at the level he used to be but he is on his way and is focusing on getting ready for Worlds.”
Bruno himself wrote about the experiences of that day on his Facebook page: “Saturday was a very special day for me. I didn’t win the Pan Ams but I won in my life. It was a big victory to be back competing after my car accident and I am really proud to have amazing family and friends. I wouldn’t be able to do it without my girlfriend Jessica Schumacher, my mom Angela Paulista, my brother Hugo Paulista, and Jeff Rohn. I want to thank everyone that helped me to get ready: all my students, and the black belts Magno Almeida, Ricardo Testai, Renato Sobral, and Jorginho Closel.”