Via Facebook, the 2012 absolute black belt champion of the world, Marcus Vinicius “Bochecha” Almeida, recounted a bit of what he went through in the lead-up to his unforgettable campaign at the Long Beach Pyramid, where the nine matches he won netted him two hard-fought gold medals.
GRACIEMAG.com filtered out some of the highlights of his post, which follow below. To remember all the champions, visit the IBJJF.org website by clicking here.
“In 2002, my sister Ana Kelly Almeida started practicing a sport called Jiu-Jitsu. Then my dad, Clayton Ferreira de Almeida, who hadn’t a clue what it was all about, bought a gi and started practicing just to accompany his daughter and find out what she was getting into. He ended up getting addicted to and fanatical about it, and after that he convinced me to practice with them. I remember the first Jiu-Jitsu magazines that he bought. At the time, he and I were fans of Marcio Pé de Pan, among others, and I never imagined that ten years later I’d be competing at a Jiu-Jitsu World Championship as a black belt and against one of our first idols in the sport.
“I had the pleasure of competing against him and knowing that I am a part of his story, since he and Comprido said that this year would be their last as competitors. Of course, besides him, I faced athletes of the highest caliber and friends of mine too. Thank God, after all these years, I managed to fulfill a dream that I always had: of being a world champion at weight and open weight—the same dream every practitioner of the art has.
“Ever since 2008 I’ve been achieving this at the other belts. I won at weight and open weight for the first time as a blue belt, and in 2009 again I won two gold medals, as a purple belt, along with Yuri Simões. In 2010, I won weight and absolute again, but this time with Antonio Carlos Junior. In 2011, on my debut as a black belt, I ended up losing in the absolute semifinal and came up short at weight, But in 2012, after dealing with numerous problems, I got focused and became closer with my buddy Lucas Leite when I went to live and train with him and everyone who lives here. Halfway through the training camp, an unexpected visitor showed up, my other buddy Raphael Chaves, who moved to California to live with us. He’s the one who helped me a lot when I moved to America in 2011.
“At the camp I was certain I’d become champion, since I trained like never before in my life and learned so much. A lot of what I learned in the days leading up to the championship was essential to my winning. Of course, my master, friend and brother Rodrigo Cavaca was also there. He’s the one who always told me I’d make it to where I am, that I’d achieve my goal.
“In the absolute final, I was losing by 4 to 0 and had already given up on the match—I was complaining of stalling. Then I looked at him. It was Cavaca who gave me the strength and showed me the way to win. He always believed in me even more than I did myself. I think in every match where I was losing or getting squashed I’d remember all the people who were part of the training camp and who were always rooting for me, whether in the Pyramid, Santos or in Catiapoã. Before going in to fight, I also remembered a talk with Alan do Nascimento: ‘Finfou, to beat me today they’ll have to choke my lights out or break something, because I’m not leaving without giving everything I’ve got.’ And that’s what I did; I didn’t give up at any moment, and after nine hard-fought matches, I managed to become the ultraheavyweight and absolute champion of the 2012 World Championship as a black belt.
“I can only thank all these people and my friends from Santos who were with me and Thiago Abreu, who was with me and was a part of numerous international titles, because everyone knows how much he helped me, besides him getting really sad that I didn’t show up for the party (laughs)! Besides him, I remember everyone who was here—there are so many names, but everyone who was a part of it knows who I’m talking about. Of course I can’t forget my number-one fan, my mother, Elisabete de Almeida! I’m so thankful to you all from the bottom of my heart, and of course to God. Thank you so much! OSSSS”