A Wrestler at the top of her game

22/03/2017 – Tamires Santana is 19 years old and has been a Fight for Peace member at the Rio Academy for three years. Tamires began Brazilian jiu jitsu at another gym and, through a friend, found out that Fight for Peace offered wrestling as one of its Open Access sessions. After trying out a Fight for Peace wrestling session, the Maré neighbourhood resident started training at the Rio Academy and hasn’t looked back since. Here she tells us a little bit about herself and her story:

At the start, I was slightly embarrassed during classes because in jiu jitsu you fight wearing a kimono, but in wrestling you barely wear anything. Your body is much more exposed. What made me feel much more at ease was my coach Cavalo who motivated me and told me that I could be the top female wrestler in the group. As it turned out, I was the first girl in his team to wrestle in competition. 

The boys in the team all treat the girls as equals. They don’t treat us differently for being girls. I think that my presence in the team has encouraged other girls to be brave enough to fight in a sport that is so dominated by men. Before, it was just me in the wrestling team but now there are five girls in the class and three of them compete, myself included.

Halfway through last year, I was elected to represent wrestling on the Rio Academy Youth Council. There’s another vote in March to decide who will be members this year. Youth Council members are chosen from each discipline and I’m hoping to be chosen again. Being a part of the Youth Council is really interesting, doing things like helping resolve problems and representing Fight for Peace when we have visitors.

When I finish secondary school, I want to study nutrition and physical education. My dream is to able to work in the area in which I want to train. I hope that by telling my story I can inspire more girls to fight. My message is if they feel like doing a martial art, they can do!