Monday, July 4, 2016

The Path to Success: Marco Paulo

Alguns lutam pela fama.
Alguns lutam pelo dinheiro.
Eu nasci lutando, e luto porque eu amo! - Marcos Paulo


Some fight for fame
Some fight for money
I was born to fight, and I fight because I love it! - Marcos Paulo

For many who live here in Rocinha, life is a daily challenge of survival. To live in a favela there is the social stigma of not being "equal" in Brazilian society. Much of that has to do with lack of proper or equal educational opportunities. Other preconceived ideas have to do with stereotypes that favelados are always trying to disprove. Very few people here are involved in criminal activity, most are hard working individuals who just earn less money. 

I have always been attracted to stories of athletes, specifically fighters as I was once in the same position as a youth. Life was always complicated for me. Sports was my outlet and way of free expression. With sports I felt I had value and could accomplish anything. Sports gave me the confidence to succeed at life. 

In January and February of 2016 we were able to raise 2,250 reais through our Favela Tours to help send 3 athletes to Thailand to compete in the World Championships. I feel great that we could contribute to these young people having an experience of a lifetime. Many here in favelas will never get this chance. And Marcos winning the belt was the icing on the cake. We are hoping that are tours continue to be popular so we can help send more athletes on exchanges or to International Competitions.

If first had contact with Diego Buchecha when I met him at the Rua 2 Community Center and introduced a French tourist to him. The French Tourist was wanting to write a story about Buchecha and his team of Muay Thai fighters. I always admired Buchecha for his commitment to his students and the team Nockdown Brasil he created. Now in Rio, Nockdown Brasil fighters are highly respected with many champions being created at their school. 

One such fighter is Marcos Paulo or "Vuvuzela" as his teammates call him. He was born in São Gonçalo in Rio. He moved to Rocinha 7 years ago for better opportunities. He used to get in trouble as a youth. Around 16 years old, a friend of his once saw him fighting in the street and told him that he should train as a fighter. After one year of training he entered his first amateur competition and he won the belt. Of course this motivated Marcos to continue training and competing. 

There were many difficulties because he had to work to help his mother and continue his studies in school. And now added on to his workload was finding the time to train. From 2011-2012 because of the stress of doing so much, he lost several competitions. This was discouraging him but he made a decision to dedicate himself to training more. He saw better results in his competitions. 

In 2013 he made the decision to turn professional as a fighter. He entered the Muay Thai Titanium Cup and was able to win the belt and became the Featherweight 65kg division Champion. 

Marcos with his coach Diego Buchecha, leader of Nockdown Brasil.

Life is not without its challenges in 2014, he made his title defense and unfortunately lost the belt to a very tough athlete "Arnaldo Fly". But he kept on training and competing and was able to collect two more belts, Itaborai Regional and Regional RFC in the same year, thus holding 3 belts. 

In 2015 he fought again in the Titanium and was able to regain the belt but this time at 60kg or Rooster weight class. 

Marcos had this to say about his victory, "On June 6th, 2015 I received an offer to fight in Sao Paulo by Titanium Copa Muay Thai where I entered as the underdog. My opponent had several National and International competitions won, but I was able to beat him and showed that I was the better athlete."

With the victories opportunities did not stop. 

In March of 2016, I was invited to compete in the World Championships in Bangkok Thailand. There I fought in 3 fights, winning 2 but unanimous decision and in the final I got the knockout to become the World Champion and the belt!

This was always my dream to compete at the highest level. I now have 5 belts.

But my thirst for victory does not end there. I continue to train as I am focused on my first title defence. I am sure it will be a great rematch and a awesome fight! I hope my opponent is ready because I am working hard to defend this belt and will not allow anything in my path to victory! 

I am proud to live in Rocinha on Street 2 with my wife and daughter. Right now I am only 22 years old with plenty of time to develop my fighting skills. My goals are to keep training but I want to try MMA. I currently work at Platform Body and Personal Training, a fitness club in Sao Conrado where I teach Muay Thai classes and train. I dream one day to buy my own house here in Rocinha so I don't have to pay rent. I love Rocinha. Despite some problems, its a wonderful place to live!

After Team Brasil came back from Thailand, I thought they deserved a party for the job well done by Marcos and his Teammates at Trapia restaurant! 

    Marcos with his belt and the Cake for Rocinha's Fighters Nockdown Brasil!

All of these fighters are winners. The awesome pride of our favela Rocinha!

And a photos of Marcos trying a competition in amateur MMA. In 2016 he has fought in 3 MMA matches, and won all 3. Seems like he is off to a good start in MMA as well. But he wants to continue for a while in Muay Thai as well. He has a great future in front of him!