A NIGHT IN NEW YORK - Part 1
On the Upper West Side, at two o'clock in the morning, August 2020:
After discreetly paying the bill for the Dark Bullet restaurant by himself, Renzo said goodbye to the friends who were still with him, got into his sporty Mercedes and drove to the court of what is considered the largest Jiu-Jitsu academy in the world, with 1,500 students.
Through that building on 30th Street passed celebrities such as filmmaker Guy Ritchie and chef Anthony Bourdain;
singers David Lee Roth, Demi Lovato and Madonna;
Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry;
actors Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Harold Perrineau, Ed O'Neill and Henry Cavill;
athletes such as world champions Georges St-Pierre, Matt Serra, Chris Weidman, Frank Edgar and Khabib Nurmagomedov;
the biggest businessman of MMA fighters in the world, Ali Abdelaziz, who entered the business through the hands of Renzo;
in addition to countless students, teachers, journalists, military personnel, models, police officers and workers from various sectors.
Jews and Arabs; religious and atheists; Christians and Muslims; blacks and whites; men and women; gays and straights; poor and rich...
RENZO: Jiu-Jitsu doesn't exclude anyone. There is more philosophy on a mat than in the entire Ivy League (a group made up of 8 of the most prestigious American universities, including Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and Yale).
Renzo remembered a story involving two students: one was Jewish, the other Arab. They lived arguing and getting weird, until they started training together. They became inseparable training partners and remained so for years. One day one of them had to move from NY and leave the academy. The other was deeply saddened. But to this day, whenever they have a chance, they call each other and make an appointment to train together. “Jiu-Jitsu brought those guys closer: they traded fights for the mat,” said Renzo.
After parking in front of the gym, Renzo began his solitary walk around the area, looking for trouble.
(to be continued)