For as far back as MMA has been in our lexicon, it has been associated with Brazil and ultimately its favelas. Fighters from Brazil that are born into these favelas are forced to chose a way to make a living that often means making the decision to be in a life of drug trafficking or training to become a fighter. While some may choose the latter, far too often the allure of fast money is too much for them, and they leave the gyms to become involved with the violent elements of Rio.
The Santo Amaro favela is among the most notorious of Rio’s slums. It’s most famous for a 2012 government ordered full military invasion; where 200 armed military personnel attempted to cease the drug activity in Rio’s south zone by forcing the drug trade further underground. The military presence is still very active in Santo Amario—as well as the drug trafficking—but so is the MMA. In 1996, Marlon Sandro founded a social project in the favela in an effort to curb the community’s youth away from the drug cartels through the use of MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The Santo Amaro favela is home to UFC fighter Hacran Dias, the Bellator Bantamweight Champion Eduardo Dantas, Marlon Sandro, and was home to UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo when he first moved to Rio from Manaus, Brazil; all of whom train at Nova União.
The documentary film team of Involve Media LTD has launched a crowd funding campaign to facilitate a documentary to help spotlight the MMA community in Santo Amaro and the social project’s attempt to curb the youth away from the negativity of drug trafficking and focus themselves onto something more positive with a potential way out that doesn’t involve spending the rest of your life in prison, or being killed by a rival cartel. The documentary isn’t just a look at the inside of the favela, but a look into the heart of the MMA community; where the hearts of champions are forged through adversity next to crack houses and murder scenes.
To be clear: the crowd funding campaign is intended to finance the documentary and not the actual gyms, social program, or youths themselves. But that’s not to say that it’s not a valid cause—because it is. Like many (or every other) documentaries before it, The Hill of Champions will bring to light an issue that most of us First Worlders generally turn a blind eye to. In order to get the funding, or assist the social program in any way, we first need to make more people aware of the efforts and concerns. Sure, all of that can be done in other ways; but Involve Media LTD is doing it with a documentary (because that’s what they do, documentaries). So I imagine you’re wondering what’s in it for you if you donate, right? The answer is ‘some cool shit.’ Like PBS, the more money you donate, the cooler the prize. For example, a $25 donation gets you a Hill of Champions sticker and an entry to win a boatload of Bad Boy merch; and on up into trips to Brazil, premiers to the film, and so on. The full list of prizes can be found on the right hand side of the Indygogo page here where you can also make donations.
So, for the love of MMA, before you drop some cash on something silly, consider donating to The Hill of Champions. Be it a base $10 donation, or maybe you’re ballin’ out of control and want to go to a premier party, please consider donating what you can. The worst thing that could happen is that you donate to a worthy cause and you improve the world. That’s not such a bad thing.