José Aldo da Silva Oliveira Junior, known across the world as José Aldo the dangerous mixed martial artist and two-time UFC featherweight champion, was not born with a clear path to his current level of success. He comes from, in his own words, a “humble family”, and he needed grit and dedication to rise up from the streets of Manaus to the international status he has today. But, Aldo likes to point out, he didn’t get there alone. Through the help of mentors and other programs aimed at helping young people in poor communities in Brazil to train in martial arts, Aldo received the training and structure he needed to succeed. Now, he dedicates himself to giving back to kids in similar situations.
His program works with around 600 students who live in communities rife with drug crimes, violence, and intense poverty. Aldo views martial arts as offering these young people an alternative path. He believes that Jiu Jitsu teaches young people how to overcome hardships and succeed in life. He says, “It teaches you to be a champion in martial arts or to be a champion in life.” And if anyone knows what it takes to be a champion on those terms, it is Jose Aldo himself.