Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was born on June 2nd, 1976 in Vitória da Conquista, Bahia, Brazil. Coming from a large family, Rodrigo has a brother named Julio; two sisters Jamile and Juliana; and a twin brother Rogerio.
At the age of 5, Rodrigo iniciate his life in martial arts by joining a judo academy with his twin brother Rogerio where they both stayed until they were 8 years old. When he was 10, Rodrigo faced one of the toughest battles of his life. A truck ran over his body, rupturing his diaphragm and also punctured by the broken ribs, his liver glued to his lung and his leg was crumbed:
“The truck was on reverse, going backwards, it knocked me down and slowly it passed over my chest. My brother tried to pull me by the arm, but failed. I only had time to take my head out of the way from the wheel and just felt all that weight crushing my chest.”
After 4 days in coma and a year in the hospital, the warrior was ready to face a successful future that he definitely had not planned for. The doctors suggested Rodrigo to practice sports and so he started by going back to judo training, which fastly earned a green belt.
At the age of 14 he moved to Salvador, on the state of Bahia, Brazil, to go to technical school. Dividing his time between school and training at the academy Triathlon, where he began practicing boxing with Luis Carlos Doria, Arcelino Popó’s coach. Which he even did “gloves” with Popó in a presentation of the academy in a mall at the city, which he fell. But as Rodrigo uses to say: “The floor, he knows nothing.”
In 1996, still at Triathlon, leaving the practice of boxing, Rodrigo kept an eye on the newcomer William Assad, black belt of De La Riva, recalling his time in Judo. He accepted the invitation from a friend to do some training. He was impressed of how he have been finalized several times by someone almost 40 pounds lighter than him and decided to go to Jiu Jitsu. Three weeks later, he was champion of the white belt at the Second Stage of World Cup Edson Carvalho, placing second in the absolute, knowing only how to fall, pass the guard and choke with Ezequiel.
And so the master of finalizations began its trajectory. He used to like the ground and was always encouraged by watching tapes of Royce and Rickson Gracie fighting and also old tapes of “anything goes”, MMA. Suffered much prejudice in his fights on titles outside the state of Bahia, but if a truck did not turn down his forces, nothing else could.
In 1999, a friend called Marcelo Grosso, invited him to go to the United States where he would meet, Jamie Levine, owner of World Extreme Fight (WEF), he wasted no time and moved out to a foreign country. He won the Panamerican Jiu-Jitsu and earned the black belt. Rodrigo also received a black belt, participating in states championships of judo. Met Levine and made the first MMA in the WEF. After the victory he decided to stay where he coached wrestling and Muay Thay, and devoted himself more to MMA.
Rodrigo decided to return to Brazil after nearly 2 years of conquests, leaving an academy that opened in the United States, bringing back 3 victories at WEF and several fights in King of Kings. He got back in search of better training, because in the U.S. he did not have anyone to train Jiu-Jitsu.
On 21 of october in the year of 2000, the fighter wins the most important prize. Tainá was born, natural from the state of Bahia, which turned the tough man in the ring into a very dedicated father. Borned with almost 8 pounds, the little girl transformed her father’s life, encouraging him further in their goals. In the struggles, his most brilliant performance was at Pride 16, one of the most important tournaments of MMA in Japan, where he “destroyed” Mark Colleman, another enshrined in the history of MMA.
From there, Nogueira “Minotaur” has established itself in the world of MMA and the dreaded beast of Greek mythology becomes an idol for the Japaneses. In Japan he is a true success. Wherever he goes, fans of all ages asks for autographs, takes pictures, give gifts and worship the king of MMA. But the champion’s desire is that his country recognizes your work and glorify his titles. Sure is good to know that Brazil is not only the country of soccer.
With such an amazing life story, our champion shows us that we must fight for what we dream and not considerate the obstacles, which to him were not few, and always seek perfection in what we believe. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is definitely one example of life.