Having established himself in the U.S., black-belt wants to change lives of Brazilian youths through BJJ

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Marcelo Ribeiro with his sons and students from the project he runs.

Marcelo Ribeiro, 43, is close to the 15th anniversary of moving to the United States, after overcoming obstacles, fears and, finally, opening his own Jiu-Jitsu academy, RMA BJJ, in Nolensville and Brentwood, Tennessee. The professor, now a black-belt of 19 years, arrived in mid-2006 and saw in the growth of the sport the opportunity to change the life of his wife and his three children, now all athletes in the sport.

Marcelo is a respected businessman and has an important part in most of Gracie Barra in Austin (TX), since he was responsible for running the first schools in that city, in 2010. In just 7 months, after the school was created and development of other units, he decided to hand over the project and open his own business, having experience in matters of brand creation, people management, and gym management. Today, for example, his two academies have more than 380 students.

With an established career in business, the black-belt decided to help young athletes who live in Brazil and who have the dream of having the experience of being a professional athlete in Jiu-Jitsu in the United States. He, along with his wife, decided to invest in four GFTeam athletes this year. The objective of the “Xchange” project is to teach them how to manage their own careers and learn English, apart from daily training sessions.

“I always wanted to do a social project in Brazil, to help young people who live off Jiu-Jitsu and offer them a life-changing opportunity,” he says. “My life goal, for now, is to give back to deserving competitors everything I achieved in America. I will help and guide each one so that their career grows from that year, as an athlete and person. They will have structures to perform their best on the mat.”

“Here we are a family; all four athletes stay at our home,” adds the former IBJJF refereeing director. “I want them to have the experience up close to see how a business manager lives in the United States. We spend a good chunk of the time training and studying, since my wife is responsible for teaching English classes. We have teaching materials as a basis for them to learn to communicate, even if it is basic in the beginning. This is what they need most. I want them to create a connection with my family and for their skills to grow more and more. These athletes already know that only with hard work will the result appear.”

Ribeiro also took the opportunity to celebrate his children’s achievements. Recently, at the beginning of February, his youngest son, Gabriel, was champion at the IBJJF Pan Kids. And his son João, the eldest, was a silver and bronze medalist at the 2019 Worlds, also from the IBJJF.

“It is wonderful to share this journey with my children,” Ribeiro says. “João and Gabriel live the sport’s lifestyle, are focused and help me a lot to teach on a daily basis. The expressive results by both make me proud, emotional and happy. It is only the beginning, as they have a long-term goal. My role as a father is to support and direct them to the best path in life in everything they want to do. I am the closest example to my children that nothing comes easy; our family struggled to be living all of this that we have today. It all comes down to hard work, focus, humility, respect and love.”

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