Carlos Farias a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and an ultra heavyweight competitor with numerous medals.
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CARLOS: “I started Kung Fu when I was eleven years old. After six years I started the UFC, the Jiu Jitsu where the little guy can beat the big guy and I couldn’t believe my eyes. One friend of mine, who’s little, said hey, do you wanna try? Use your Kung Fu and I use my Jiu Jitsu. He got me on the ground and he chocked me. I said I don’t believe it, let’s do it again and he chocked me again. I said Okay, now I believe, show me how I can learn this.”
ROB: “Here is the guy who eats, sleeps, breathes the sport. He competes at the highest levels. Last year he was number six in the world, number one in the United States. The first five are Brazilian. Now, he’s the United States citizen, he competes in the United States, he is American.”
CARLOS: “I told my daddy: ‘Daddy, I’m gonna go to the United States and I’m gonna live my life in the United States.’ He said: ‘Okay, I’m gonna wait for you here.’ ‘No, daddy, you don’t understand, I already bought my ticket and I already have the date.’ ‘But why? What did I do wrong?’ ‘No, you did nothing wrong.’”
ROB: “When you first start, you’re in very tight spaces. People are on top of you, squeezing you and it’s very easy to get claustrophobic. And over time you overcome that and there’s mental toughness you develop. Your pain tolerance goes up, tremendously. But when you first start everything is uncomfortable.”
CARLOS: “I left my country, I left everything I have, everything I know in 2005. I came to the United States on tourism visa. I had to stop training for a little while, I had to find a job that could pay the rent. And always be happy, no complain about how bad the job is. Just believe. You can do it.”
ROB: “It’s almost an addiction and then it literally consumes everything you do.”
CARLOS: “I’m already here, I already lost my job, I have no money for one week. Some friend of mine said hey, Carlos, what’s going on? Are you sick? Yes, I’m sick because I didn’t have anything to eat all day. He said let’s go to Walmart and I will buy some food for you. I said I don’t know how I’m going to pay, I said, but when I have a job I am going to pay you back.”
ROB: “He is a very intimidating guy to have a conversation with, if you ever meet him. I mean he is six-foot giant, maybe six four, six five. He weights anywhere between two hundred and eighty and three hundred pounds and he’s solid muscle. He was intimidating to talk to.”
CARLOS: “I tried to work at a restaurant – I didn’t like it, I tried to deliver pizza – I didn’t like it. Someone looked me up on the news and said looks like you’re really good, I said I’m Okay. The guy said I can offer you my home to live for free and you gonna train. I worked with him for two years and lost my job, again. Someone else said hey, I need help training in Phoenix, Arizona. I said Okay, I have nothing to lose, I started working but the owner wasn’t treating me very well and I decided to quit my job and find another job. Next one was East West MMA, two years later that one closed, I found another job but soon after the guy started giving me bad checks, not answering my calls. One day he did call and said we’re closing the gym, Carlos, you have to find another place.”
ROB: “We felt like he’s being taken advantage of. Whether it was language barrier, whether he’s a “foreigner.” People were taking advantage of him, and he was bringing business in and they were siphoning off. A small group of us got together and we sat down and we brainstormed and then we all got in our cars and we drove around Mesa, Arizona looking for spot that we were gonna plan our flag and call our own. And we spent probably a week talking to landlords and looking at prices and looking at the physical structure whether we could work for what we wanted and we finally hit on the old Iowa caffe. It was run down, it was moldy, the roof was sagging, it was not ideal but it was cheap. We went in and gutted the place. I mean just floor to sealing we knocked everything out, it was just big open floor plan. But we all sort of pitched in and did it together and we did it almost for nothing. Everybody just pitched in their time. So this man really attracts the loyalty. It’s a tribute to him as the man.”
CARLOS: “All my students came to me and said Carlos, we gonna open the gym for you. I said I’m gonna pay you back. No, you don’t have to pay back. What you give to us is better than what you can pay. I was little lost. Everyone gave some piece. One gave the floor, another gave the mats, one guy gave five hundred dollars, another guy two thousand dollars, another one hundred dollars. One week later I was opening my own gym, my dream came true.”
ROB: “When he teaches you something he knows what he’s talking about and so you don’t want to disappoint the guy like that. He’s very quiet, he doesn’t yell, he laughs a lot. He is a big teddy bear. He is very soft, very kind, he has very little ego but still the toughest guy I know, easily.”
CARLOS: “I don’t believe anything is coming easy. If it comes easy, it goes easy. You have to go work and don’t expect anything. Just work and try to reach your goal. Never be satisfied with where you are. You always can go up. In Jiu Jitsu we learn this. We’re never happy on one tournament. Always try to improve yourself. Don’t compare to other people, always compare to you yesterday.”
ROB: “What could I tell you about the coach that would embarrass him? The guy loves milk and cookies. And ice cream.”