The women’s jiu-jitsu community has always been chock full of impressive athletes, but the new generation is taking things to a whole new level. That cohort includes one of the most exciting American-born middle-heavyweight BJJ competitors on the scene: Kingz athlete Maggie Grindatti.
Even before Maggie was awarded her black belt by fiancé and jiu-jitsu legend Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu in December 2019, she rocked the BJJ community by absolutely dominating her divisions at the World Championships in both the gi and no-gi, from blue belt to brown. She even placed second in the ADCC West Coast Trials, just barely missing the number one spot in by far the toughest women’s division the event has ever seen.
The Maine native is no stranger to high-level competition, having been a former D1 field hockey athlete at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where she earned a degree in Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences. After college, she moved to Hawaii to live with her uncle, T. Jay Thompson, where she would discover jiu-jitsu… and the rest is BJJ Heroes history.
We caught up with Maggie to get a deeper look into who she is as a person, an athlete and a role model in the jiu-jitsu community.
How long have you been training and how did you start?
It has been seven years in June. I started in 2014 because of my uncle. He was always involved in the MMA world and he has always been like a father figure to me. After college, I moved to Hawaii to train MMA, and that’s when I ended up falling in love with jiu-jitsu and decided to focus just on that.
What are your goals for the year?
My goal for the year is to gain experience. I am really ready to get more comfortable in the black belt division.
What has been your greatest accomplishment and why?
My greatest accomplishment so far has been winning a world title in gi and no-gi at every colored belt (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). This is something that if you had told me I was going to accomplish, I never would have imagined it.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want to inspire others to never give up, and to always give your full effort and be the best you can be.
Who is your role model and why?
My biggest role model is my fiancé, and it’s for so many more reasons than just our personal relationship. Cyborg has showed me that if you keep following your passion you will accomplish your dreams. Also, the way he treats people and gives attention to everyone is very inspiring. And the biggest thing he’s taught me - and why I admire and look up to him so much - is that he doesn’t sweat the little things. That was something I was never good at; just brushing things off.
What is your favorite quote and why?
My favorite quote is: “Without struggle there is no progress.” I think when things come too easily, it doesn’t last, and when you have to struggle and work hard, it makes it all that much more worth it.
What advice do you give to those who look up to you?
For those who look up to me, I would say to always think before you speak. Also, once you figure out what you want to do, or be, or accomplish, give everything you have until you have achieved that goal.
What does being a Kingz sponsored athlete mean to you?
Kingz is one of the first brands you learn about and you see all the top athletes wearing when you start jiu-jitsu. They’re at every major tournament. What catches my attention about Kingz is the attention and effort they put into not only their athletes, but the entire jiu-jitsu community. And now being one of their athletes, I can speak to that from experience.
They also give so much love to the women’s community, especially with the Empowered Collection. It’s such an honor to be a part of something so beautiful and meaningful to all of the women – current and future - in our sport.