This piece about Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was originally written for The Bleacher Report, but I’m publishing it here so that I’ll always have a copy.
The scar on his back serves as a reminder of the things he lost.
He walks the earth with one less rib than his equals, the result of a horrible accident that happened when he was ten years old. The young boy was run over by a truck, and he lapsed into a coma for four days. He lost one rib and part of his liver, and it felt like the ending of the boy’s story had already been written.
The boy, however, was a fighter.
Eleven months after the horrible accident that took pieces of his body and nearly succeeded in taking his young life, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira went home. The first chapter in a remarkable story of guts, grit and determination had been written, but this tale wasn’t finished.
No, it was barely beginning.
Antonio was born in Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil on June 2, 1976. Founded in 1783, the town would eventually become known as a center of the Brazilian coffee-producing industry.
Though young Antonio began his fighting career by starting judo classes at the age of five, his first significant victory was over death itself. He nearly lost his life to a truck, and many people counted him out.
Antonio began his fighting career at the age of five, but his mixed martial arts education started at fourteen, when he was invited to train in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the tutelage of Ricardo de la Riva Goded. In 1999, he accomplished a very rare feat, and was awarded a black belt in both jiu-jitsu and judo.