Jose Aldo started at the bottom, sleeping in his gym and sharing sponsor money with a teammate that added up to a mere $100 a month.
Now he’s considered one of MMA’s pound-for-pound greats!
In a recent interview with the UFC he broke down his tough and troubling upbringing as a fighter: (transcribed by Yahoo! Sports)
“I started working two shifts a day with my dad. I would go to school at night to try and save the money to buy a ticket to Rio. I wanted to come to Rio to train at ‘Dede’ Pederneiras’ gym. That’s when I started working and saving money to come. And, I succeeded.”
“When I first got to Rio I had absolutely no money.
“All I had was one bag full of clothes. I brought everything I owned. I said I would only go back to Manaus when I was successful. When I landed at the airport and had to walk all the way to the gym. My friend Marcos Loro was waiting for me at the gym. He was going to help me, but when I got to the gym Loro wasn’t there so I sat there hungry until he came back at night.”
“I had nothing but my clothes. Together, we shared and both lived off less than 100 bucks a month, all from a sponsor that Loro had at the time.”
“I left my home and my town to chase a dream.”
“Rio is very different than Manaus. in Manaus you know everyone in town. It’s a smaller town. You can walk around and get help from people.
RIo is a very big city, with a lot of fast-paced people. At the time there was a lot more violence, too. The two cities are very different so it was hard for me to adapt. When I went to live in the favela I heard a lot of gun shots every day and night – something I’d never heard before. That was something that affected me a lot.
When I first got to Rio I had to sleep at the gym. But for me it was a dream to be in Rio training with the best. I knew there were obstacles and adversities in my way.”
“If today I am who I am and I fight the way I fight, It’s thanks to all the adversities I encountered in life.”
“I left my home and my town to chase a dream. It was what I expected it to be. I knew it was going to be hard, but that’s not a problem, let’s keep going. “
“I think that all I went though in life, from all the adversities and all the joy, I always try to keep the best parts. If today I am who I am and I fight the way I fight, it’s thanks to all the adversities I encountered in life.
“The way I lived my life is what made me strong. That’s what makes me a rounded person, with a good mind-set, able to go in there and win.”