São Paulo – Under the scalding summer Brazil is facing this year, the athlete Kaike Angelim (1st from the left, in the photo) and other three jiu-jitsu fighters were selling water bottles in the traffic stoplights of Cuiabá. The athletes were trying to go to the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2019, to occur in April in the United Arab Emirates’ capital. In the first Saturday of the action that would be repeated for three months, however, his picture working in a traffic light changed Angelim’s schedule.
The picture was taken in January 12 and became viral in the social media along the next week. “Tuesday the picture was all over Instagram and Facebook, and then the local press started looking for me. Saturday night, I connected my phone and my Instagram had many more followers,” told the athlete. In addition to the largest audience, there was a message in English. “A man said: ‘The Sheikh was moved by your story and wants to help you come to Abu Dhabi,’”, Angelim told ANBA.
The “sheikh” was Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi crown prince. The message was sent to several means of contact, but the athlete was incredulous, and took some time to believe in what was happening. “There was another person saying the same thing in my WhatsApp. I thought, nobody gives anything for free, specially to athletes, but I decided to reply saying that I did need the assistance. I explained I’d already bought the ticket in the credit card and I was working in the traffic light to raise the money to pay it off,” he told. The sender asked for Angelim’s account details. And within minutes it was there, the amount he had spent with the tickets, deposited inhis account, and the hotel reserved in his name.
“They didn’t even ask for a receipt. Just the account. I asked who he was, who was the Sheikh?” told the athlete about his astonishment at the occasion. After seeing his name in the confirmed registrations for the tournament, Angelim understood that the message really was from the prince’s assistant. “I’m very grateful to the Sheikh for making this dream into reality. He is doing this not just for me but for every person who has a dream. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!” declared Angelim.
In addition to Kaike, who now fights in the category up to 94 Kg, purple belt, the fighters Matheus Arantes, purple belt up to 110 Kg, Diego Santos, blue belt up to 70 Kg, and Allan Nascimento, blue belt up to 66 Kg, are looking for support to go to the tournament in Abu Dhabi. “Matheus and Diego managed to buy their tickets in the credit card,” he explained. All these athletes train in the gym Maldonado Team, in the capital of Mato Grosso. In addition to them, the also Brazilian Paulo Araújo, who fights in the same gym, got private sponsorship and is already confirmed in the event.
The Arabs also paid for the registrations of the four Brazilians, who already had their tickets bought, including Paulo. The amount reaches USD 400. Angelim is going to fight in the professional adult championship and explains: “The Abu Dhabi World Professional is the largest jiu-jitsu competition in the whole world. The more organized one. But since it is in Abu Dhabi, few athletes can go. Just the best of the best will be there.” This is the first time Angelim goes to the event.
Fight to compete
Born in the small town of Paranatininga, the athlete has been fighting jiu-jitsu for five years and lives now in Cuiabá. Despite been sponsored by local companies to follow his workout routine, he completes his salary teaching Muay Thai and kickboxing classes. To go to events, however, he needs to work hard in more jobs that gives the most money. “I’ve always did something to [go to] other events. I’ve sold T-shirts, raffles, I’ve always sought these resources,” he told.
Last year, Angelim could compete in the United States thanks to these activities. However, for the Abu Dhabi tournament he explains he needed to create a new activity. “Selling shirts wouldn’t be enough, so I had the idea and we decided to sell water in the intersection,” he told.
Now, with his expenses paid, Kaike Angelim will travel to the tournament on April 15. The competition goes from April 21 to 26. One of the Sheikh’s requests was that he stopped his activities to raise money, so just the other three Brazilian athletes will continue the activities until April, with the Angelim’s support from behind the scenes. In addition to selling water in the traffic lights, both Matheus and Diego also keep an online crowdfunding to raise money for their tickets and other travel expenses.
After the confirmation of Kaike Angelim’s trip, the Sheikh also sent a team to produce a documentary about the Brazilian trajectory. Check below:
Translated by Guilherme Miranda