Interview with Jackson Sousa: IBJJF World Championship gold medallist and six times European Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu BJJ champion
Introduction to Jackson:
Hi, I’m Jackson Sousa, 30 years old and originally from Brazil. I grew up in Cantagalo, a favela in Rio de Janeiro. My childhood years were pretty rough by normal standards as my family were very poor and there was a lot of drug trafficking and violence in the community. It was Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) that gave me hope as a child and later this turned into a proper lifestyle when I became a professional athlete. I am currently the “AJP King of the Mat” and I have won several gold medals at the IBJJF World Championship Gi and No-Gi, Pan American No-Gi, and I am also six times European champion.
Where do you call home?
I live in London and really love it! I have learned so much in this city in the past few years and I am still learning. London has so much to offer - education, history and many cultures living together in one beautiful, international city. But despite loving London, I will never forget that my roots are in Cantagalo Favela in Rio de Janeiro, which for me will always remain the most beautiful city in the world, where I started my journey and my home.
When/how did you get into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
It was back in 2000, a friend from school in Cantagalo invited me to come along and give it a try. I discovered BJJ was a way of life and way to keep me away from the temptation of earning easy money in the drug trade. Under the watchful eyes of legends such as Leandro Martins, Ricardo Vieira, Leo Vieira and Alan “Finfou” Nascimento I managed to become a successful athlete and coach, and use my passion for the sport as a tool to better my life and that of my family.
What do you love about BJJ?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is my therapy. It’s helped me overcome difficult times in my life, teaching me resilience, discipline and respect for others. BJJ really is a lifestyle. Connecting people from different backgrounds and nationalities. When you’re on the mat, all those differences disappear and everyone is equal. When I’m training or fighting I experience a lot of adrenaline, strength and power, but as soon as it’s over I chat, eat Açai and build beautiful friendships with interesting people from all walks of life.
How did you discover Sambazon Açaí?
This was when I travelled to California for the first time to compete in the IBJJF World Championships in 2013. Two days before the competition I went to Huntington Beach with a group of friends to relax my body and mind after a few days of intense training. We found a little store that sold Sambazon Açaí and I grabbed a bowl with my favourite recipe - Açaí with banana, strawberries and peanut butter and coconut on top. Now don’t get me wrong, I had eaten a lot of Açaí growing up in Rio, but Sambazon Açaí really stood out for me because it tasted amazing and had a strong social ethos.
Two days later, I competed at the World Championship for the first time. Despite being the underdog with no experience of competing in the US I won the gold medal! You never know - maybe eating Sambazon Açaí helped in a small way!
A year later I was back in the US at the office of my sponsor - Shoyoroll, my boss Bear Quitugua ordered Sambazon Açaí bowls for the whole crew. Happy times.
How have you incorporated Sambazon products into your regular routine?
I like to eat my Sambazon in a traditional Açaí bowl or a smoothie after training. It gives me a great buzz because it tastes great and reminds me of Rio de Janeiro. It’s also very nutritious, especially when you add the chia seeds, cacao, and goji berries - and I always add a spoon of peanut butter!!
What is your favourite Açaí bowl recipe?
My favourite Açaí bowl recipe takes me back to my roots in Rio de Janeiro - it’s super simple, I just blend banana with a little apple juice and pop granola on top. You can find the recipe here.
What does Sambazon mean to you?
A lot! I takes me back to my childhood in Rio de Janeiro while giving me an edge with my recovery and relaxation after training. I also really like the fact that Sambazon take their social and environmental responsibility very seriously. Fair trade is important to me and the support that Sambazon gives to social projects and the famers in the rainforest is unreal.
You can find Jackson on Instagram
Find your nearest Sambazon stockist here