This Mother Of Two Didn’t Let A Nightmare Journey Get In The Way Of Her Winning A BJJ Tournament

Photo sent by Melanie Pons. Used with permission.

A mother of two small children won a Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament, but she had to go through Hell to get there. Now, she wants her experience to inspire others.

Melanie Iraola Pons — a white belt at American Top Team East Orlando — wanted to take part in the USA National Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Kissammee, Florida.

Getting there, however, required her to bring her two small children, ages three and two.

“My match was supposed to be at 11:44,” Melanie told The Jiu-Jitsu Times via Facebook instant messenger. “I arrived at 10am…[but] there was no parking. I have my two kids and they’re three and two years old. They didn’t have an elevator…and I go in the tournament and they didn’t let me go in with my stroller, and I have two of them, and there are stairs that you have to go up, and I have my bag and my two kids…so I leave the stroller in the entrance and I go in with my two kids and I go to the second floor and they told me it was delayed for an hour, hour and a half.”

But that’s not all.

“My kids, of course, they have to go to the bathroom,” she continued. “So, the bathroom is on the first floor. So, I had to go back and forth up the stairs with them, picking them up, so I can take them to the bathroom…they’re running around, [I’m] trying to keep them calm and tidy, and all of that…but, I just got calm and have a positive mind, got to the competition, and…manage to win by points.”

Some readers may be shrugging their shoulders and saying, “So what? She had to go through some minor annoyances to get to the tournament. Besides, she only won one match to win her division.”

But those readers need to think about how nervous they were right before a tournament when they were white belts. They then need to imagine what it would be like dealing with that nervousness while going through all of those “minor annoyances.”

And yes, winning one match at a little-known tournament isn’t the same as plowing through 10 of the best fighters to win a gold at the Worlds. But that’s not the point. The point is that Melanie could have used her situation to stay home. She could have said, “I’ve got these two small kids and no one to watch them. There’s no way I can make it to this tournament. I’m going to stay home and watch TV.”

But she didn’t, and that is the message she wants to drive home.

Some people unfortunately feel that their lives are over after they have kids. They feel that their sole purpose in life now is to be a caretaker. Indeed, I know many people who don’t want to have kids because they think it will get in the way of achieving their dreams.

Melanie, however, sees things differently.

“I just wanted this to be motivating for mothers out there, that everything is possible with the right mind[set],” she told us.

And to anyone who thinks it’s impossible to be a mom and make it in the world of combat sports, I have two words for you: Cat Zingano.


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