By Arkady Petrov
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The fulfillment of a childhood dream on the tatami in the most important jiu-jitsu competition on the planet: Amazonian Matheus Gabriel Pinheiro Barros won the gold medal in the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship on Sunday, June 2nd, in Long Beach, California, United States.
The competition organized by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) is a sort of World Cup for the sport and includes the best active athletes from several continents.
In his first year as a black belt, the 21-year-old from Manauara, competing in the featherweight class, has been delighting Jiu-Jitsu fans with an extremely refined technique.
He had already won the Pan-American title, but the World Championship had been his dream since the beginning of his career. This is why he left his homeland to train, live, and compete in the United States.
Matheus Gabriel Pinheiro Barros beat all four of his opponents in the World Championship — an American and three Brazilians. In the dispute for the class title, the Amazonian defeated the experienced Márcio André with an arm lock.
“Thank God that in this final, I was able to finish, and everything worked out. I’m thrilled because that was a dream of mine since I was a child. One of the reasons I stayed in jiu-jitsu until today was to be a black belt world champion. And thank God, in my first year as a black belt, I won the Pan-American and the World Cup. It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said the champion.
Matheus Gabriel began as a child under professor Alcenor Alves, currently in the technical coordination of the White House. He trained in the old Checkmat gym, in the Cachoeirinha neighborhood Manaus, where he was helped to purple belt class by teachers Diogo Dutra and Sammy Dias.
In 2017, he moved to Dallas, Texas, and began training at Guy Mezger’s Combat Sports Club with coach Keiser Girão, who is part of the Checkmat world family.
To make a name for himself in the 2019 World Championship, the tatami phenomenon intensified his training sessions with Professor Lucas Leite, in California.