Menino de Ouro /// By: Lea Young
A seventeen-year-old Brazilian named Johnatha Alves has got the whole BJJ world buzzing, collecting double gold wherever he goes. It started at Worlds 2015 and the momentum continued into 2016. After he won double gold at the Europeans, Johnatha made his way to the United States to learn from the best – none other than world champions, Gui and Rafa Mendes, at the coveted AOJ Academy. Johnatha’s success continued to skyrocket, as he took double gold at Pan Ams, the Las Vegas Open, and finally at Worlds. He even won double gold in the adult division at the American Cup, proving that he is not just a danger to his teenage counterparts, but to everyone.
Here’s what a few notable names in the sport had to say about Johnatha:
“Johnatha is a part of our believe & achieve program and one of the #aojjuveniles – great talent with a very mature mindset for his age. He won Worlds double gold in juvenile one and two, won pan ams and Europeans double gold also and we are excited to keep working and watching him shine during his path to become a black belt world champion.” – Mendes brothers
“Man there is so much to say about this kid. He is phenomenal. I think what makes him next level is his work ethic. He’s the perfect student. He is a very good listener and does what he is told, zero complaints. Also the guidance he has, Rafa and Gui, also helps him be at such a high level, especially for his age. I love training with him, because he always brings the heat and never stops. I’ve told everyone about this kid since I trained with him in January. He’s something special.” – Rolando Samson
“Johnatha is a very very talented young man with a bright future, I can already see that he possesses high level characteristics and it’s exciting to see how far he will go.” – JT Torres
It has been said by many that Johnatha is already a high class black belt but is stuck in a 17-year-old blue belt’s body. With all of the well-deserved praise that this “man-child” (as Rolando calls him) is receiving, Johnatha remains humble and focused. After Worlds, he returned home to Sao Paulo where he continues to put in work on the mats.
So be sure to keep your eyes on this “golden boy.” There is no doubt that with time and experience, Johnatha’s jiu-jitsu will reach new levels as he continues to rise to the top!