In 2003, Yuri and his father went to ADCC in Brazil. Yuri, who at the time was 13 years old, turned to his father and said, “one day I will compete here”. Two years ago Yuri Simoes fulfilled that promise and would later be crowned ADCC Champion. His father, his family and his friends were all there to cheer him on, you couldn’t write a better story.
During the tournament he suffered a pretty serious injury that affected his performance in the absolute. No one really knew how serious it was until we got back to the US. The injury kept him out of training for some time but at some point his desire to be on the mat outweighed the pain, and he started training again.
For the past two years, Yuri’s injuries went from bad to worse. Shortly after capturing his 2nd No Gi world title, his body gave in and the ligaments in his knee tore as well as his meniscus. The doctors told him he would be out for 6-9 months. Yuri explained that isn’t possible, he has to defend his ADCC title in 9 months.
Yuri did what champions do when faced with adversity, he went to work. After 2 months of extensive physical therapy we started drilling again. The pain was a bit much so we decided to wait another month. After 3 months off, he made his return to the mats, teaching and drilling to the best of his ability. In June, after over 6 months off he returned to training.
A month after training he competed again at the San Jose Open. This was his first competition in 10 months. In his second match his body was spent, but he continued. On that day he didn’t test his knee, he didn’t test his Jiu Jitsu, he tested his heart and came home a champion. The following week he went against Judo Olympian Travis Stevens, and again came out victorious.
Heading into ADCC I was extremely nervous. I believe in Yuri, and have always believed in Yuri. With that said while he got to train for 3 months, most of the athletes who were competing never stopped training. Last weeekend Yuri went out and put one of his best performances I’ve ever seen, not because he submitted everyone or had dominated the competition, but because he kept on battling and never stopped believing. In the end he was crowned champion, and I have never been prouder. He did it, his name is in history and his story is one that should never be forgotten. Never let anyone tell you what you can’t or can do. Always work for your dream, and when things are down know that if you keep working things will get better. Congratulations Yuri!