2020 is a big milestone year for me. It is 25 years since I started BJJ & Muay Thai Kickboxing training and 20 years since I started coaching. Here is the next part. Feel free to like, comment and share this post.
Part 2 of 5: 1997-2000
I was so obsessed with BJJ I sold everything I had and moved to Dallas, Texas for 2.5 years and trained with Carlos Machado. I was an Occupational Therapist at the time and recruiters were hiring therapists to live and work in the USA. What an opportunity! I signed on the dotted line and in August 1997 I landed in the USA.
I trained in Redondo Beach with Rigan Machado for 6 weeks before going to Dallas. My first class I was partnered with a 20 year old Ricco Rodriguez (Future UFC Heavyweight Champion). It was train, eat, sleep repeat for 6 weeks. What a great start to my trip!
Then some bad news. I could not get my work visa stamped in my passport unless I left the USA and got it stamped in another country. My recruiting company recommended me to go to England. So off I went and had to stay there a month on a shoestring budget. I finally got my visa and came back to the USA. I arrived back on Sunday, started work on Monday and then on Monday night had my first BJJ class at Carlos Machado’s BJJ academy!
I was dead broke. I started work on a Monday and had to wait 2 weeks for my pay. Every night I went to the Supermarket and did laps eating as many free samples I could which was my dinner for 2 weeks. When I got to Carlos’ the first thing I asked was could I trained for free for 2 weeks till I got paid. Thankfully he said yes.
Carlos’ academy was in a Karate school at that time run by James Boecker. I was a white belt and all the high ranking students were all Blue Belts. I met a lot of friends while training in Dallas and still friends with hem to this day including Travis Lutter (Winner of TUF 4), Robert De Franco, Tino De Franco, Tim Burrill, Tery Corkron & Jaime Barron. We travelled all over Texas competing and also to Rio for the World Championships in 1999 and to Florida for the Pan Ams in 2000. I won a Bronze Medal at the Worlds as a Blue Belt and then a Silver Medal at the Pan Ams as a Purple Belt.
Getting back to Supermarkets I filled in an entry form for a competition in 1998 at Albertsons. I ended up winning the competition which was an all expenses paid trip to Paris for 4 days and 2 tickets to the quarter final of the World Cup. I invited my brother John. He came to Texas first and we pretty much were “Blind in Texas” for a week before going to Paris for 4 days (via New York for 3 days first). We watched France beat Italy by penalties. The next day we watched Croatia beat Germany on the big screen in the streets of Paris (My parents are Croatian).
At the end of 1999 I was chosen to be part of the RCJ Machado team to compete against the Gracies in their Los Angeles academy. It was the first time the Gracies competed in competition. There were 30 on each team and it was single superfights. It was no time limit and to win you had to win by submission or by 15 points. I won my match in about 12 minutes by 15 points in the Heavyweight (97kg) Blue Belt division. The RCJ team won most of the matches that day. I got to meet Helio Gracie (and Ed O’Neill) for the first time.
None of the above would have been possible without Carlos Machado. He took me in when I arrived in December 1997 as a White Belt up until I I left Dallas in May 2000 as a Purple Belt when my work visa expired. Carlos is my coach today 23 years later. He taught and shaped my BJJ game and made a blue print of what I am today. Since I left in 2000 I returned back to Dallas 6 times and brought Carlos to Australia about a dozen times. My students, family and friends have been able to meet my coach, mentor and friend Carlos. Looking forward to bringing him back to Australia soon.
Next week is Part 3: 2000-2002.
Coach Anthony Perosh
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