Rebeca Cavalcante she is not just an elite athlete; she embodies the legendary heritage of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. From her first steps at the age of seven in sports wrestling in Petrópolis, this young woman’s trajectory is intertwined with the legacy of the great figures of the sport. The goddaughter of Renzo Gracie and Ralph Gracie, as well as the cousin of notable black belts, Rebeca found her path, defying expectations with courage and determination. Her wrestling journey, which began almost unnoticed, quickly brought her into the spotlight of adult competition, earning respect and recognition at the age of 13.
The beginning of his journey in the world of children’s sports wrestling at the age of seven was remarkable. How have these early experiences shaped your passion for the sport over the years?
I always liked fighting. Since I was very little, I watched it on television and knew that my brothers practiced it, but I was too young to understand things. Even so, I asked my mother to enroll me in a fight academy. She went straight to jiu-jitsu, but by pure coincidence, she was closed off. So, we had to look for another gym and we found exactly the same type of fighting that my brothers did, which was sports wrestling. Before long, I started competing in sport, but I lost more than I won. Still, it was a good experience.
Being the goddaughter of Renzo Gracie and Ralph Gracie is a notable connection to the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. How did this family influence impact your career in sport?
They had a lot of impact. Renzo and Ralph are my biggest references on and off the mat. I feel honored to be their goddaughter and I hope to bring a lot of pride to both of them. I’m not as talented as them, but I’m persistent and courageous like them. I’m sure this will bring me good results.
His transition to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu came at the invitation of his godfathers Ralph and Renzo Gracie. What motivated you to accept this invitation and dive into the world of BJJ?
It was the first time that both of them were together in my city for a seminar. Ralph brought me a kimono, that was my first contact, and since then I fell in love with this incredible sport. I saw the possibility of changing my life through it and providing better conditions for my family.
You have trained in both Brazil and the United Arab Emirates. What differences and similarities do you find in the training and approach to sport in these two places?
In the Emirates, we are treated as truly prominent people in society. The education and respect for our sport there are incomparable, and my godfather Renzo is mainly responsible for this, due to his relationship with the country’s princes and monarchs. Jiu-jitsu there is a school subject, while in Brazil we still cannot even start discussions about implementing jiu-jitsu in schools, whether private or public.
Starting judo at 19 seems to have been a courageous step. How has practicing this third modality impacted and complemented your Jiu-Jitsu experience?
To this day, I reap good results from my phase in judo. Unfortunately, I practiced for 1 and a half years and won some championships, but I believe that what impacted me most was the discipline, which is unique. Judo takedowns are a very good ally for us in jiu-jitsu, but we are so focused on getting sponsorship and fighting in championships that we forget to challenge ourselves in other modalities that can add something to our jiu-jitsu. Note: I won my third place match at the 2023 world championships with a judo takedown.
Signing with Al Wasl Dubai was a milestone in his career. What has it been like representing the club in the United Arab Emirates and how has this influenced your evolution in the sport?
Nowadays, I represent the Military Club of the Emirates Ministry of Defense, MOD UAE JIU-JÍTSU. But, without a doubt, playing at Al Wasl was very enriching for my career, and I maintain good relationships with athletes and management.
You achieved excellent rankings in several international and national rankings. What aspects do you believe were fundamental to reaching these prominent positions?
I analyzed the best championships in terms of points to determine which ones were worth investing in tickets and accommodation to compete. These were not random choices; there was a plan.
What are your goals and plans for the future in the world of fighting, considering the experiences and achievements you have had so far?
We always look for sponsorship as athletes, and I can’t complain, because in 2023 I was blessed with excellent sponsors. It seems that this year I will continue to represent Shark Energy Drink and Lordêlo Logísticas, reaching the top of the podiums in various parts of the world.
My biggest goal is to win the title of world champion at the World Pro Abu Dhabi, in November this year, and reach a good position at the European Championship in Paris, which will take place in January. I intend to lead the ranking again, but now in a new range. Regarding training, I’m planning to reintroduce judo and wrestling to become an even more complete athlete.
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