Leticia Ribeiro already had five Worlds title championships under her belt when she took to the mats last Sunday at the pyramid in Long Beach. Now she’s added another Worlds gold medal to her collection. To make it even more impressive, this was the light feather black belt’s third Gi Worlds win in a row. “I’ve been competing a long time,” the ultra-fit 32-year-old says, “I’m the only girl who’s competed in the Worlds since it started. Jiu-Jitsu is my life. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Leticia says it’s not hard to win once, but it is definitely difficult to keep winning every year… and every year she says it may be her last and that she may retire. Ribeiro traveled around to eight countries last year giving seminars. Her students at Gracie Humaitá in San Diego train and compete, so she adds “coaching” to her list of duties as well. Although she loves it, all of her responsibilities can take away from her personal training and preparation for competitions.
“My job is to compete and I love it,” she says, “I moved to America three years ago to develop the women’s program here and around the world. I’m teaching Jiu-Jitsu now, and I have to start thinking about retirement because I’m a coach, a trainer and a competitor. It’s hard to do it all.” Regardless of when she makes this decision, Ribeiro says she definitely wants to go out on a win.
Many Jiu-Jitsu athletes come from far and wide to train with her at her world famous camps before their big competitions. “I feel so good about it. All the girls want me to compete, so I do. This is my life: teaching, training, and competing… no, I’m not ready to retire yet,” she laughs. Ribeiro credits Beatriz Mesquita for keeping her going. “She’s my real motivation to train and compete,” Ribeiro says, “I have to train with her and she says I can’t stop!”
As for her big Worlds win, Let says, “I’m so happy! I’ve already been a world champion and I’ve made a world champion. I feel happy as a competitor and a coach. I thank God for all I have in my life and to be the person I am.”