A pleasant memory from 1999, months after my relocation to the U.S. from Brazil to pursue my dreams.
From L to R, Uncle Carlson, Troy, now the head instructor of @carlsongracieoc, Franco de Camargo, one of the pioneers of Jiu-Jitsu in Orange County-Ca, and myself as a purple belt.
Looking back to that time upon coming across this photo, feelings of gratitude for all the relationships built and the apprenticeship that took place during my first year in America fill my heart.
Learning to balance the excitement of a new life in the land of opportunity, away from my family and friends at 19, with the responsibilities needed to achieve my life goals was a great feeling.
I am thankful to Franco for all the valuable advice given to me then, helping me achieve all my personal and professional goals.
Advice such as staying disciplined and focused on my training to eventually compete in MMA (which happened 4 years later in 2003), the importance of taking supplements to assist with the training I was putting my body through daily, weightlifting, joining the Wrestling team at El Modena High, enrolling for Boxing classes at Punch Out in Santa Ana (shout out to coach Art wherever he may be), and more.
Many faces from the Academy on East Chapman Ave. come to mind, and I hope everyone is doing well.
24 years later, Orange County is still my favorite place in America (not just because of Disneyland)!
- Professor Crosley Gracie