I am so excited about this next post for a couple of reasons! First, I just love hearing the stories of people that have had their lives changed for the better because of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and what is written below is a pretty powerful turnaround. Second, this post helps to mark the moment when two of my passions are finally converging–my apparel brand and my blog. As I mentioned in my last post
, my attention has really been divided lately, but a chance interaction on Instagram has helped me bring everything into focus. So here comes the big news! Student of BJJ’s has its first ever sponsored athlete! I asked him if he would be willing to tell his story. Without further ado, allow me to introduce:
Xavier “Bam” Marrero – Student of BJJ’s First Sponsored Athlete
It was December 2012, and I was freshly new to Florida. At that time, I needed to leave my original state of residence, Pennsylvania. At the time, I was in a very dark place. I was involved in gang activity, selling drugs, and doing the complete opposite of what a law-abiding citizen should be doing.
As I was driving one night coming home from work, I passed a Gracie Barra school. It was a relatively sizable gym, and it seemed like a neat place to look into. Some odd amount of days later I decided to check out a class. I parked in the lot, nervous about not knowing what BJJ was, what the rule sets were, and if I had the discipline and focus that was needed to really live this lifestyle–the BJJ lifestyle.
I stepped onto the mat for the first time with Professor Igor Andrade– the man who cemented my love for this sport. He had me roll with one of his white belts, just to see where I was grappling-wise. I had Army Combative Training and knew every WWE move known to man, and 2 minutes into the round I submitted my now great friend GBK (Gracie Barra, Kissimmee) Jean Iglesias via triangle. I received much praise for this as it was my first class. I figured since I was being praised, heck why not take the praise and run with it? I did just that. I took my praise and ran with it… right into Professor Igor’s baseball bat choke.
Once I woke up, I had a whole new level of humbleness! I fell in love. I couldn’t get enough of the adrenaline, the technique, of everything that was BJJ! To see firsthand that background, color, religion, none of that mattered we were all one on that mat. We were a family. We were Gracie Barra, Kissimmee. I studied under Professor Igor for a little over a year and a half before I was forced back to PA due to family affairs. I picked my training back up at Next Level Martial Arts practicing Muay Thai until they linked with a sister school, 3rd Generation BJJ, based out of Lancaster, PA . I was under the instructions of then brown belt Erik Faust (Owner of BCBJJ 3rd Gen BJJ Affiliate). After training there for quite some time, I finally received my Blue Belt in August 2015 from a newly promoted Black Belt Professor Erik Faust and his instructor Shane Moss.
My love for Jiu-Jitsu will remain eternal due to the people mentioned above, and also the BJJ family I have come to collect along the way in the competitions, the travel, the tournaments and the festivities we all link through the sport. I believe we are all fighting with the same one purpose–Unity through Art.
What Xavier didn’t mention…
Through several conversations that I’ve had with him, he’s said over and over that BJJ gave him his greatest gift–his family. This Gentle Art put him on the good path, and he is now a role model for his wife and two children. If he had never decided to step into the gym on that first day, he might have continued down that dark path and found himself in prison (or worse!). I believe he’s going to do great things and I’m honored to share his story on this little blog! You can check him out on YouTube here: Bam!
You can show your love for Xavier and me by ordering his custom gear here: