Garry Tonon’s Life Is Not All ‘Cash, Chicks, And Championships’

Fans remember fighters in their great moments, where the belt is getting strapped around their waists following an epic match and the crowd is celebrating a big victory.

At those times the life of a top BJJ athlete seems glamorous to those of us watching from the outside.

Competing and winning on the international stage, world travel for competitions and seminars, making your living from jiu-jitsu…seems like an amazing life!

Fresh off a victory in the EBI 13 Lightweight tournament (earning the maximum purse of $20,000 for submitting all opponents) Garry Tonon shared the side of life that few BJJ fans know about.

Competing is a short lived venture. Its something that you can only do for a short period of time in your life.

The majority of your life will be years where athletically you won’t be competing at the highest level of any sport. The most important thing to me is ya, so I want to win this tournament, do I want to win the money, so I want to get the prestige of winning and all of those things? Yes…but the most important thing to me is that I’m developing skills that I’ll be able to pass on to later generations that will allow them to become better at jiu-jitsu because that is what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life once I’m done competing. So that’s the number one for me.

It isn’t all “cash, chicks and championships.”

Very little free time. All the time in interviews I’m asked, “What do you do in your free time when you’re not doing jiu-jitsu?”. It’s like..pretty much nothing. I’m sleeping. Or I’m eating. It’s not much of a life outside of jiu-jitsu because I’m trying to claw my way to the top each and every day. I don’t really think that there is any other way to do it than to just be miserable trying to get there every day. I don’t think that anybody who has gotten to the pinnacle of what they were trying to do, got there by being comfortable. I think that if you are not miserable, working your way towards whatever it is that you are working towards, it is either not that desirable or you are not working hard enough.

In any sport, any profession, art..whatever you want to say where there traditionally isn’t a lot of money involved, if you are going to make a living out of doing whatever that is, you’re going to have to claw your way towards the top of whatever that is. Whether its teaching, whether its competing, whatever the case may be, if you’re going to make a career out of that, you’re really going to have to put your all in. Its not something that you can kind of half ass and make a living off of.

You’ll struggle a lot more. I’d rather struggle, clawing my way to the top than struggle to pick up the scraps because I didn’t work hard enough.

Check out the video of Garry talking about his life below:


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