This past Sunday night I returned to Rio de Janeiro after my week long trip to Sao Paulo and heading straight from the airport to the Tijuca Tenis Clube, bags and all, I was able to catch the last few fights of the Copa Podio. Friend and training partner Manny Diaz participated in the event, and did impressively well I might add, and so he had a VIP wrist band waiting for me at the door when I got there. I came in during the superfight of another friend and humblest of Champions Leandro Lo and I was ecstatic to see him make 7 points on Claudio Calasans for the win. While in Sao Paulo I was invited by Leandro to come help he and Manny prepare for the Copa Podio but I was staying in Morumbi which is a neighborhood that is about an hour away from Agua Branca where Leandro trains. Still, I made the effort to take the metro all the way out to train with Leandro and Manny last Wednesday but I got turned around in the subway and ended up arriving late. Leandro had been waiting for me at the metro station but had to leave as not to miss training himself and seeing as I had forgotten to get the address to the academy before leaving the house I had to turn around and take the hour long trip back to Morumbi without training. After the fight with Calasans, Leandro said he might make a trip out to Rio again this month during which he will hopefully pass through Soul Fighters so we can get at least one training session in together before I leave. Next up was the battle for third place between Paulo Miyao and Olympic Judoka Travis Stevens, Miyao coming out on top and securing the bronze. The final match of the day was between another good friend and training partner Diogo "Moreno" Araujo from Soul Fighters and Felipe "Preguica". Diogo just recently returned from spending six months in California during which we trained together about three times a week at Caio Terra's academy and he also came through to Santa Cruz with the guys multiple times during his stay to go to the beach and eat at Cafe Brazil where my girlfriend works. He lives right down the street from where I'm staying here in Tijuca and has been helping me out a lot so far since I've been back in RIo. He is a really humble guy, fellow video game addict and one of the staple competitors of the Soul Fighters team so needless to say I was rooting for him. However, after a tough battle all the way to the end it was Preguica who ended up taking home the gold. I was bummed I wasn't able to be there for the entire event to coach Manny and to support the rest of the guys but at least I made it back from Sao Paulo in time to catch a couple of the matches.
I'm glad to be back in Rio but I also really enjoyed my time in Sao Paulo. I have always spent my trips to Brazil in Rio and the only time I ever went to Sao Paulo was a quick weekend trip to compete once in 2008 where we arrived at 3 in the morning, slept on the mats at the Barbosa academy, competed the next day, spent one more night and turned around and came back to Rio the next morning. It was fun to spend a full week and a half in the gigantic city known as Sao Paulo and since I'm kind of obsessed with tall buildings I ended up taking even more pictures there than here in Rio. The feel of Sao Paulo is much different than Rio where Rio is man made madness meets with mother nature, Sao Paulo is a straight up concrete jungle and I kind of liked that. I liked how there was a really high class feel to Sao Paulo and though it was definitely an expensive week and a half I really enjoyed trying out some of the high class bars and restaurants such as the Churrascaria Fogo de Chao and another all you can eat restaurant where you piece together your own feijoada to your liking from all the seperate pieces. I stayed at the house of my number one training partner from Santa Cruz Rafa Eboli with his mother and his brother Leo Eboli. Leo introduced me to about fifteen of his friends during the weeks time I was there, all of which almost immediately felt like life long friends of mine as well, two of which are planning to come stay at my house in Santa Cruz in the next couple months to visit Rafa. It's funny how speaking portuguese has totally changed my experience here in Brazil, whereas I used to be left out of almost every situation now I feel right at home almost everywhere I go and people here are usually really excited to include me, often calling me "the most brazilian gringo they've ever met" or saying that I speak portuguese better than they do (hahahaha). Though I wasn't able to make it out to Leandro's gym I still got some really tough training with the guys at Cia Paulista and felt very at home on the mats in Sao Paulo. I look forward to returning to Sao Paulo the next time I'm here in Brazil!
Stay Tuned Ossss