On Saturday, strawweight fighter Cristiano Marcello took home the middleweight title in the UFC at UFC 231 in Toronto, only a week after his father’s passing.
While most of America had been searching for signs of hope and guidance in an era of political division, Marcello’s future looked far rosier. The 23-year-old, who hadn’t fought a fight since 2015, has endured hard times in life, being shot in the chest and even bouncing around foster homes.
“I was not a good kid. I was kind of a lost boy growing up. I bounced from one foster home to another,” Marcello told Fox 8 at an event in June. “I was beaten by my dad, which was pretty much my first lesson in life — that my dad beat me at a very young age.”
The young fighter has overcome an abusive past to become a professional, winning and becoming the first Brazilian to win the middleweight title. He’s now learned from this experience to help others who may be caught in similar circumstances.
“You’re not invincible,” Marcello said. “You’re not a god. Everything that happens to you is going to affect you in some way.”
Marcello trained with Team TJ and was signed by the UFC as an amateur after winning his first two bouts on the amateur circuit.
This guy didn’t win this fight because he was good, but because he out-smarted the best wrestler in the world https://t.co/pn23cM76ek — The Sports Daily (@SportsDaily) September 6, 2018
“When I was growing up with my dad, I’d be screaming at him at 4:30 in the morning. I would always cry in front of him. That was the scariest thing that happened to me in my life, was when I had to face my dad on his own,” Marcello said. “When you’re 8 years old, you don’t stand a chance.”
But Marcello isn’t letting personal issues stop him. The young athlete has been able to overcome the hardships that took him away from his father by overcoming his own actions.
“The inspiration I have is my dad, my family and my godfather,” Marcello said. “They really made me who I am today, and I’m very thankful for that.”