By far one of the most exciting jiu-jitsu competitors – male or female – in the sport today is Bianca Basilio. The 25-year-old from São Paulo state in Brazil has nearly dominated the light and featherweight black belt divisions since being awarded her black belt in December 2016 by Caio Almeida.
Even before that, the jiu-jitsu world had already taken notice. Her accolades during her colored belt years are nothing short of impressive, with juvenile World and Pan championship wins, and multiple-time gold medal wins at Worlds, Pans, Brazilian Nationals, Europeans, and South American championships. You name it, she has won it. Not only that, but she was never shy about stepping into the Absolute division and snatching a few gold medal wins against women much larger than her.
When she finally received her black belt, BJJ Heroes named her as one of the top Black Belt prospects for 2017.
She did not disappoint. Since 2016, she has become a three-time IBJJF Pan champion, two-time AJP Abu Dhabi Pro champion, a CBJJ Brazilian National champion and South American champion, and an ADCC World Champion… the last being one of the most prestigious titles in the jiu-jitsu world.
As fierce of a competitor as Bianca is, she is equally humble, down-to-earth… and an exceptional role model for female practitioners around the world.
Enjoy this interview with one of our favorite Kingz sponsored athletes:
How long have you been training and how did you start?
I’ve been training jiu-jitsu for almost 15 years. I started through some friends from school who knew I liked to be active and I already played some sports with. They invited me to join a class. At first, because of my lack of knowledge, I didn't want to go. I thought about what I had heard from some people, and I didn't want “to be making out with anyone.” Hahah. But I couldn't resist for long and I went to check it out.
At that time, one of my teachers had opened a mat in his backyard to receive children from the community, with the hope of providing an opportunity that could change the children’s lives. But at the time it wasn’t clear to me that that’s what would happen, because jiu-jitsu wasn’t that big yet. But the real objective of the Almeida JJ Social Project had always been to create good citizens. Even if after a while, that person no longer practiced jiu-jitsu, the hope was that they take the teachings with them throughout life.
At the time, I was a teenager who lived fighting in the streets with the boys. I was always competitive, I didn't take shit home, I grew up on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, and I learned that I couldn't waver on the street, I couldn't be innocent, and I needed to know how to defend myself because you never know what could happen. After I started training jiu-jitsu, I transformed myself, and I continue to transform myself into a better person every day.
My parents always encouraged me in the sport. My father always said to me, "If that's what you want, do your best and be the best, and for that you don't have to step over anyone." I started when I was 11-12 years old, and soon decided to prioritize it, dedicate myself 100% to it and make it my life. I turned away from that adolescent phase of dating, clubbing, drinking, going out, or anything else that took my focus away from jiu-jitsu. I can say that if today I succeed, it is because I chose to and I struggled to succeed.
I am very grateful to God and grateful that He put me on this path, because without Him I wouldn’t be who I am and I would have nothing. He has placed incredible people in my life, to keep me on the path and take care of me. To me, this is beautiful. I am grateful to my parents, my teachers, Caio and Diogo Almeida, to Emiliano from In' Omertà MC - my sponsor who changed my story in many ways and supported me when I was still a nobody - and to everyone who has been a part of my journey. I have so many people to thank.
What is your goal for the year?
My goal this year is to conquer my dream. I will compete at some important events, and I intend to begin a new cycle in my life. I trust in God's plans, and being his will, it will happen.
What has been your greatest accomplishment and why?
I've already conquered so many important titles in jiu-jitsu. All of them are important to me, but the biggest lesson jiu-jitsu could teach me is that there is space for all those who are willing to work. More valuable than any gold medal, is knowing what to do with it; that I can use it for my own ego, or I can change other people's lives, directly or indirectly. I have learned to live, to respect, to give, to understand, to care, to solve problems and overcome them. Those are my greatest achievements during these past 15 years.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want to be able to help change the lives of people who live in the margins of society – those who are discredited, the rejected, the underprivileged – and help them to follow the path of becoming a good citizen. Just as the social project did to me, my brother, and my friends. Whether or not they remain in jiu-jitsu, I hope that these people can find a future or become better from this opportunity, to do good and make a difference in a world that has so many problems.
Who is your role model and why?
There were many people that I looked up to during my life to get to where I am. Those include especially the people closest to me.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
What advice do you give to those who look up to you?
If you have a dream, it was God who put it in your heart. If he did, he has faith in you to fulfill it. Do your part, because he won't do it for you. Your dream is already yours, all you have to do is get up and go get it.
What does being a Kingz sponsored athlete mean to you?
When you are at the top, everyone sees you. But the life of an athlete has its ups and downs, and having people who will be by your side, believing in your potential and encouraging you when everything is not so good, that is rare.
When I signed my contract with Kingz, I was very happy. It meant the beginning of a new phase, a renewal, a certainty… I can’t explain it, but I feel good things. Good-hearted people attract good-hearted people, while all this lasts – I hope for many years to come – I will do my best to represent the brand and everyone who believed in me.