An interview with Mario Sperry
I first met Mario Sperry years ago, at a BJJ camp I attended over in Spain. At the time, a bunch of us from Ireland flew over to get to meet and train for a week with guys like Sperry and Minotauro, and to this day it is still some of the best training (and fun) I have had training Jiu Jitsu.
Mario Sperry was one of THE big names back in the 2000's, heading up the world famous Brazilian Top Team along side Murilo Bustamante, Ricardo Libório and Luis Roberto Duarte. BTT traced it's roots back to Carlson Gracie, from whom all of these guys received their black belts. They eventually broke away from Carlson and went on to form BTT, which created such fighting greats as the Nogueira brothers, Vitor Belfort, Alan Goes and Ricardo Arona.
I put a few questions to Mario about his life, how Jiu Jitsu has played a part and what he's up to these day. Here it is :
Patches O'Toole : Thanks for taking the time out to answer my questions Mario !
Mario : Thank you !
Patches O'Toole : Can you tell us a little bit about your background, where you grew up and how did you get started with Jiu Jitsu originally ?
Mario : I was born in Porto Alegre, South Brazil. When I was 3, we moved to Rio, where I was raised. I started in judo when I was 5 years old, right after that, I got started with Jiu Jitsu.
Patches O'Toole : Many people mention that BJJ has changed their life, how do you feel it's effected yours ?
Mario : I’ve heard many people saying that Jiu Jitsu changed there lives, including myself. Everything I have and everything I have accomplished is connected to Jiu Jitsu
Patches O'Toole : You have been engaged in combat sports for a long time, when you wake up in the morning, are you in pain from any damage your body has taken over the years or is everything all good ?
Mario : Yes, of course, but it is not so bad. I have seen many people that did much less, concerning training than me and they have stopped training due to injuries. On the other hand, until today I am used to doing many other sports, due to my conditioning acquired on my Jiu Jitsu training. Also, I have seen many people much younger than me (I am 47), that never trained BJJ, with no injuries, having a vegetative life. BJJ also gave me the perseverance, discipline, the will to go over my limits and a healthy life style that is hard to find anywhere else. One more thing: on the mat, I have made and I am still making new friends all over the world: Jiu Jitsu is awesome!
Patches O'Toole : Have you noticed any differences between training in Brazil and elsewhere in the world ?
Mario : Pretty much none. Brazilians just have more tradition. We have been a little longer involved with the sport. Everyone is equal on the mat!!!
Patches O'Toole : What does a regular Mario Sperry day look like these days ?
Mario : Everyday, early in the morning, I take my daughter to school. If there is some surf, I go have some fun for at least 2 hours, then I go work. If I am not too tired from surfing, I go to the gym to train or lift some weights. Everything done under a good diet !
Patches O'Toole : Any big plans on the horizon ?
Mario : Big plans? Not really… My goal is to continue to have the life I am having now.
Patches O'Toole : If you could offer someone just starting BJJ some advice from all of your years of training, what would it be ?
Mario : Whenever you are tired, rest. Train smart and try to not get injury or at least, understand your limits in order to overcome them! Diet is 85% of any kind of training. Try to help your training partners, they will make you stronger, and at the end of the day, you will fell better helping others to get better!
Patches O'Toole : Competition can be a big part of BJJ for some, how do you prepare for a competition and do you still get nervous before a big match ?
Mario : Sure! If you are not nervous, you are not ready! Usually, I do not train to compete: I train to get better, so, I am constantly training to improve myself and help others. Whenever there is a competition, I will be ready months before!!!
Patches O'Toole : If you could fight any 3 guys in a Jiu Jitsu tournamant, who would they be and why would you pick them ?
Mario : I am retired right now, but I would say that, when I watch Buchecha, Rodolfo Vieira, André Galvão, Cyborg and Braulio Estima fighting, these are the few moments that I am glad to be retired… They are outstanding athletes and models to learn from!!!
Patches O'Toole : Thanks again for taking the time out to chat Mario, much appreciated.
Mario : You're welcome, thank you !
Mario is one of the true legends of the sport, both BJJ & MMA. Here's a few videos to check out from Mario's awesome years of training.