RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – To make a dream come true, sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone. And that’s what happened to sixteen-year-old athlete Gabriel Bona.
The Brazilian was not sponsored to compete in the 2019 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, held in California, and giving up was not an option. He started selling biscuits on the street to raise money, managed to pay for the trip and even won the gold medal of youth champion in the heavyweight category for Brazil.
“The idea of selling biscuits arose when I realized that I couldn’t travel to international competitions without money. I couldn’t find any other option, and my parents couldn’t afford it. Also, since they also didn’t allow me to stop studying to work, the only way was to sell biscuits,” Gabriel told Jornal Extra.
Born in the US, Bona’s parents returned to the West zone of Rio de Janeiro when he was five years old.
The young man, who wakes up every day at 6 AM, says his routine is daunting. Divided between selling biscuits, training at the gym, and studying, his daily schedule is well detailed.
“It’s hard to accommodate everything. I have little rest, I don’t have time to have fun with my friends, but I know that these sacrifices are required to accomplish a goal. My parents support me, but they’re upset because I have very little time for them. I am away from home all day, and they work hard, sometimes we don’t even meet during the day,” Gabriel admits.
Despite the difficulties, the athlete boasts an enviable track record. Currently, he holds the World Champion title, and is a two-time South American Champion and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion. His next challenge will be in New York (USA). The youth will compete in the Pan-American Nogi, to be held in September. He’s already estimated R$10,000 (US$2,500) for the next trip. If no sponsors show up by then, he will keep on selling biscuits.