While the history of Brazilian jiu-jitsu has long been peppered with the stories of young prodigies, this most recent group has proven to set the bar a little higher. One of the most standout young athletes of this new generation is Kingz Athlete Cole Abate.
Long a dominant figure in the kid’s and juvenile divisions, Cole has benefitted from the tutelage of Rodrigo Pinheiro in San Antonio, Texas, before moving to Costa Mesa to join the juvenile army of Art of Jiu-Jitsu, with Guilherme and Rafael Mendes.
In 2021 he hit a new stride, taking on some of the biggest names in the sport. At just 16 years old, Cole entered the ADCC North American Trials in New Jersey, held just last November. In a division of over 160 men, Cole fought his way to the finals, submitting three opponents and outscoring four more, to finishing with a win against Keith Krikorian. He became the youngest male athlete to win a trials in ADCC history.
Some of his recent achievements have included:
- January 2022 – named the 2021 FloGrappling Breakthrough Grappler of the Year
- December 2021 – named among the Top 5 Feather to Lightweight No-Gi athletes in 2021 by BJJ Heroes
- December 2021 – received his purple belt from Gui and Rafael Mendes
- November 2021 – gold in the men’s 66kg division at the ADCC North American Trials
- September 2021 – defeated veteran black belt Geo Martinez, with a close split-decision loss to Gabriel Sousa at WNO
We caught up with Cole to talk about who he is, his jiu-jitsu journey so far, and what he has his sights on for the future. Read on…
How long have you been training and how did you start?
I have been training for the past 12 years, since I was five. I was introduced to the sport at a very early age when I would go to the gym with my dad while he worked out. He met a guy there who also trained jiu-jitsu, and he invited us to come try out a class at his academy. I took my first trial class when I was five, and every time we passed by the gym I’d ask my parents to bring me back to train again. Soon enough I went back and haven’t stopped training since.
What are your goals for the year?
My goals for this year include competing as much as I can in both gi and no-gi, with my sights set on becoming the youngest to ever win ADCC in September, as well as winning all of the major IBJJF competitions in the adult purple belt division.
What has been your greatest accomplishment and why?
My greatest accomplishment so far is winning the ADCC Trials in the 66kg division, which had more than 160 people, after seven fights and having faced some big names in the sport. I set the record for the youngest male to ever win the event, and I now have the chance to do the same at the main event in Las Vegas.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want to go down as one of the most accomplished Americans to ever compete in the sport, in gi and nogi. I also want to set an example for the next generation to strive to find their passion while they’re young and stay loyal to their goals.
Who is your role model and why?
The most influential role models for me have been my parents, who have supported me from day one and have worked to give me the best chances at making my dreams come true. I have also always admired the paths of my professors Gui and Rafael Mendes, who have had to build their names from the ground up in a small town in Brazil. Today, they have built one of the most successful jiu-jitsu academies in the world and solidified themselves as some of the best competitors the sport has ever seen.
What is your favorite quote and why?
One of my favorite quotes is: “Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can do what others can't” from Jerry Rice. This is the mentality I try live by with everything I do. Thinking like this will inevitably make you an outlier compared to the rest of the people who work in your same craft.
What advice do you give to those who look up to you?
I want them to recognize that if you find your passion early, it gives you much more time and potential to improve at that very thing. There are lots of people who don’t know what they want to do even when they’re in college. For me, I was able to find jiu-jitsu when I was five years old, and I have been working to steadily to be the best since then.
What does being a Kingz sponsored athlete mean to you?
I have been sponsored by Kingz since I was 10 years old, and I’m very thankful to have received their support since I was kid. I look forward to continuing my work and representing the brand even when I’m a black belt.