Leonardo Allen has had a career associated with sport, particularly judo. The Brazilian started playing at the age of 3, and by the age of 18 he was already playing in the country’s main tournaments. Born in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Leonardo was a state, regional and national multi-champion in judo, participating in two attempts for the Olympic Games in 2000 and 2016.
Despite the titles, his journey has not been easy, and Leonardo recalls some of his most memorable moments, including qualifying for the 2000 Sydney Olympics in Australia.
– My life has been marked by many difficulties and struggles. The first one happened when I was 19, I was about to take the entrance exam and I was in a difficult moment as I was under pressure to have a ‘normal career’ as the game was still amateur. When the Olympic process took place in Sydney, I went to take a break from judo and then there was an attempt in Pernambuco, where I live – Leo continued:
– I saw the opportunity to test myself in front of the main names of the scene, I got into the adult category, my biggest difficulty was losing weight, so I fainted at school. However, surprisingly I beat the young promises and won. I was one of the 16 main judokas in the country and in the finals, I was disqualified in Barra da Tijuca (RJ), where Henrique Guimaraes, the medalist of Atlanta-96, participated – he added.
As the dream of moving to Sydney ended, another began: the American one. In 2000, Leonardo Allen immigrated to the United States. However, what the Brazilian thought would be a hiatus in judo turned out to be a fresh start, and the beginning of a new – and long cycle – of seeking a place in the Olympic Games.
– When I came to America, there were many difficulties without speaking English and without a job, but it was there that I met my wife, with whom I have two beautiful daughters, Alex Davis, who is now the manager of UFC fighters. It was a great encouragement to me. He put me on the American Top Team when the academy was still starting, and I surprised him in the first week of training, and he signed me for the 2002 Florida State Championship. I won the tournament, and that was my resumption of judo on American soil – said the athlete who rose to the top of the sport in later years:
– Between 2006 and 2009 I was at the top level, and in 2008 I was invited to participate in the US National Team camp before the Beijing Olympics. Unfortunately, as I am not a US citizen, I am unable to join the team. Years passed and 2014 came and as I was 36 years old, it was my last chance. I had dreamed of this moment for years, had the support of my family and went all out aiming for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Training from Monday to Saturday, many trips, competitions, pains, wins and losses… I tried with all my might, but my body was too worn out and injuries kept me from this dream.
In America for 22 years, Leonardo Allen is currently an entrepreneur, cryptocurrency investor and financial advisor. From his time as an athlete, it brings stories, memories and moments, good and bad, but above all the lessons it carries for life.
– Judo is my life. I wasn’t born in a golden cradle, but I was able to study with good grades, I went to college, I saw Brazil and the world, I made many friends. I’m grateful for the game that gave me so many opportunities, and that’s how I see cryptocurrencies: an opportunity. I love the debates, it’s a new world in terms of fighting, but for an athlete, even in a different and complicated field, you have to overcome yourself and be resilient. We have a guarantee today only, so why not take a chance? – concluded by Leonardo Allen.
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