Boxer and former Fight for Peace young person, Wanderson de Oliveira, has made a winning start to his first Olympic Games. The athlete, who now lives and trains in São Paulo and is known to friends as Shuga, hails from Complexo da Maré, the community in which Fight for Peace began. He first started boxing at our Academy in Rio de Janeiro when he was 11 years old.
Representing Brazil at Tokyo 2020, Shuga came through his opening bout of the Games on Sunday 25th July with a convincing win, and now faces Dzmitry Asanau of Belarus on Saturday for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I was playing football and I came in [to Fight for Peace] to get a drink of water”, explained Shuga in a recent interview with Brazilian newspaper, O Dia. “I must have been 11 years old at the time, I saw a friend training boxing there. It all started as a bit of fun.”
Later, in 2013, as a sixteen year old, Shuga travelled to the UK as part of a Fight for Peace youth exchange and represented our London Academy in local boxing shows.
The much travelled 24 year old is now a five time Brazilian national champion and is aiming to emulate compatriots Robson Conceição (boxing), and Rafaela Silva (judo), in winning an Olympic gold medal.
Becoming an Olympian is already an enormous victory as Shuga joins a very elite group of athletes competing at the highest of levels. Following Shuga’s progress has got the whole of Fight for Peace bouncing, and we are all extremely proud of and inspired by everything he is achieving.
Shuga follows in the footsteps of, and goes one step further than, fellow former Fight for Peace member and current Sports Coordinator at our Rio Academy, Roberto Custodio, who was a first reserve boxer at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Speaking recently to website Maré de Notícias, Roberto said: “Young people come here to Fight for Peace hungry for victories, they want to be champions. What we aim to pass on to them is the idea that preparation for life is the same as preparation for a championship. It’s normal that they want everything straight away, but the most important lesson is about resilience, about knowing how to fall and get back up again.”
These are certainly the preparations that Shuga has made over the last 15 years that have led him to this exciting moment, and we can’t wait to see what’s next as he chases his Olympic dream.