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Brazilian jiujitsu offers lifeline to Rio favela kids

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Brazilian jiujitsu offers lifeline to Rio favela kids

Rio de Janeiro -- In a hilltop slum crammed between two of Rio de Janeiro's wealthiest neighborhoods, children practice Brazilian jiujitsu, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the black belts whose graffiti portraits decorate their gym's walls.

Brazilian jiujitsu has provided an escape route for numerous kids from the rough alleys of Cantagalo, an impoverished favela whose shacks spill down a hill between the upscale beach neighborhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema.

Taking a break from teaching holds to a group of boys grappling on the mat, jiujitsu master Douglas Rufino says he has seen the sport literally save kids' lives.

"I can say it saved me, too," says Rufino, 41.

"I could have followed another path here in the community," a neighborhood rife with drug gangs and violence, he says.

Instead, the Cantagalo native went on to win the world lightweight championship in 2006. His face is now one of those painted on the walls of the gym -- a hall of fame of sorts, paying tribute to the favela's greatest black belts.

Rufino has been teaching for the past 20 years at the Cantagalo Jiujitsu gym, part of a project founded in 2000 to channel the power of the sport -- which is hugely popular in Brazil -- to help children in the favela.

"The idea is to give them a better future and the chance to make a living from jiujitsu," says Rufino.

Read more at: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20230819/brazilian-jiujitsu-offers-lifeline-to-rio-favela-kids/75053.html

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