ABOUT LEO SANTOS
Born on February 5th, 1980, in the neighborhood of Penha, Rio de Janeiro, Léo Santos started training Jiu-jitsu at the age of 8 years old, although he did not like it very much, since like every child in the suburb of Rio, he wanted to be a soccer player.
Leo's family already had a tradition of Martial Art through his uncles Geraldo Flores and Bastira Santos. This tradition was soon passed on to his cousin Wendell Alexander, who at that time became the main teacher of his family, and with that, he taught a whole generation including Leo himself and his two brothers Wagnney and Gilberto who today are also black belts in Smooth Art.
His cousin and teacher, Wendell Alexander, started teaching near Leo's house, at the Mello Tennis Club. Against his own wish, the young Leo started to train the Smooth Art.
There was a competition that sparked Leo's interest in this type of event, where he went to watch the fight of his older brother, Wagnney Fabiano. The huge crowd shouting his brother's name caught his attention. And, Leo's brother did not disappoint, as he finished the fight very quickly, with a flying armlock. The crowd went wild, invaded the mat, and his brother left there uplifted and cheered. From that day on, it was in fact, when Leo became interested in practicing BJJ and compete because he wanted to be like his brother.
From then on, he started to dedicate himself to training and challenged himself more and more. At 14 years old, he won his first championship in the adult category. In the same period, Wendell Alexander together with André Pederneiras formed one of the best Jiu-jitsu teams of that time, the Nova União (NU) team.
At just 16 years old, Leo became the youngest world champion, in the adult category, blue belt. However, at the same time, our Leo suffered his biggest defeat, the loss of his father, Pedro Manoel. In addition to the personal impact of a loss of this magnitude, there was also a financial impact on the young athlete's family. That was when he started teaching some classes to help his family financially.