While he represented Brazil on the Olympic judo team, Leo Leite won world BJJ championships in 1999 and 2000. Having lost his spot in the 2012 London Games last-minute, Leo gave no thought to quitting training. Hearing his brother’s words on resilience, Leo sought a new path and moved to MMA. Now with an undefeated record including ten wins, Leite tells us a little about this story of tenacity.
I’ve always been moved by challenges — I’m battling, training. I have 10 wins; I’m undefeated and seeking to fight the best — this is my next challenge. At the London Olympics I lost my spot at the last second, and that could have gotten me down; I could have dropped everything and quit fighting, but no. I put myself into a new challenge, something I had never done before. Boxing; Muay Thai; even training no-gi BJJ, which I had done so little of in my entire life. One day my brother told me about resilience, which was how I managed to turn the tables on that quote-unquote loss that were the London Games. And it was in MMA that I found myself; I love training — I’m happy as a clam, in love with training, learning something new every day.
To many people I was insane, because for me at 35 to want to migrate to MMA. I knew of my potential, and I know to this day — I know where I can go. I still have a lot of fuel to burn — I go to the gym in utter joy; I wake up all sore to go train with a big smile. I’m in traffic for an hour to get to the gym and I’m not pissed; I get there happy to train, and, while I continue to have this happiness to train inside me, I will keep going. I will keep seeking my dream of fighting in a big event. I feel very good. Of course my body gets worn out faster than before, and faster than the younger guys, but, as long as this flame is inside me, I won’t stop.