Leo ‘Leozinho’ Veiera

Leo ‘Leozinho’ Veiera, one of the top grapplers in the world todayBALEIA- How long have you trained jiu-jitsu, and whom did you start with?

LEO- 20 Years. I started when I was 6 or 7 years old. And it always was with Romero Calvacanti, ‘Jacare’!

BALEIA- Who did you admire or who did you idolize when you started jiu-jitsu?

LEO- When I started I was so young that I didn’t know who was my idol. But later on I started seeing the older people training at my academy, like, Roberto Traven, Fernando Gurgel, Alexandre Paiva, Fabio Gurgel. I saw those guys and wanted to be like them one day! Today I admire my brother! Between him and all the guys, He’s the one I most admire! I’m confident and trust 100% on his dynamic game. Also my father is an idol for me! So I have those people, and Jacare is the best of everyone!

BALEIA- How did Jacare from Manaus enter the Master Team?

LEO- Jacare was a friend of Terere’s. And, always when Jacare would compete in Rio de Janeiro, he used to stay at Terere’s house. Then we started to be closer with Jacare and suddenly we thought that we should represent a bigger team. So he had a talk with his instructor about coming into the Master Team, because he knew everyone already and everyone was supporting him. Then he joined the team. Jacare is an exceptional person. He has a great heart plus he’s a great and excellent fighter who just got his black belt. Without a doubt he addes a lot to the team!

BALEIA- Were you disappointed that you didn’t get to go against Royler in Abu Dhabi this year?

LEO- Dissapointed, no. I was happy to win. It was my first professional competition. I participated to get more experience technically and emotionally. I came in to fight and win and it didn’t matter who I was going to fight against. They just had good fighters like Royler Gracie, Rhany, Eddie Bravo and excellent fighters like Baret Yoshida. So, I couldn’t say I wanted to fight with anyone or another fighter, I had to prepare to pass through all of them. All the people that were there went through the qualifiers, and they had to have done something to be in there. So, that’s why I am not disappointed at all. I adore Royler. I know him personally. I admire him a lot for what he represents in jiu-jitsu and for his fights that he has had. He still trains and competes today! I see him as a great fighter.

BALEIA- You have won almost every competition you entered in the last two years, do you think its time to fight Vale Tudo now?

LEO- God has blessed me a lot! And, I hope everything I have gotten is through him. These last two years for me have been very good. Now with the question of Vale-Tudo, I have already received some proposals. I have the idea to fight in Vale-Tudo. Today I have an academy with Vitor Belfort in Brazil, where we offer Muay Thai, Wrestling, Boxing and jiu-jitsu. We have a lot of fighters with a big diversity of weights. I feel like I want to fight! But, I am waiting for the right offer. We have Terere, Damian, Jacare, and others who are ready to fight and and just waiting for offers.

BALEIA- Who do you think is the #1 in BJJ and Vale Tudo now?

LEO- I believe my brother for jiu-jitsu! I’m a fan of my brother. For me in competition it’s him and that’s it. If you put everything together, teacher and , fighter, I have to tip my hat to Jacare. The teams that he has, he has all the best fighters in the world! For the quantity and quality of his fighters he has two teams Alliance and Master. They are 2 strong teams. My team, Master, we just proved by winning the two last Brasillian Team Championships and we took second place in the two Mundials but lost to Barra Gracie by 10 Points in the world championships! So our team its young but very strong. For this we have to thank Jacare! He is absolutely the number one in jiu-jitsu. In Vale Tudo I believe so much in how much we work for it. Vitor Belfort is back and he’s fighting a lot On the Mat! His speed is very good. He has returned to the UFC! So for me he’s number one! He’s going to continue doing good for a long time!

BALEIA- How do you train every day?

LEO- My day is complicated in Sao Paulo. It’s a big city with a lot of trafic. I wake up at 6:00 A.M. & get to the university at 7:00 A.M. then study until 12:00. Then I go train at 12:30 at the academy. I train with the professional team. At the Master’s academy, there are a lot of people and the training is very exhausting. Then at 2:00 or 3:00 I go eat. Then right away I do a bunch of private lessons and group classes at my academy. Then we have a special training that’s separate. We train very hard! We do some special training with personal trainers at the ADPM (the Police acdemy in Sao Paolo) where we do good conditioning for our training.

BALEIA- Is it true that you are very religious and do you think your faith in God affects your jiu-jitsu?

LEO- Without a doubt! Especially when it’s an individual thing! Sometimes we kid with eachother “ahh religion, this doesn’t help you”, But its very much the opposite! Everyone, when they feel they are in a situation of fighting or danger looks for God! So, always I follow Jesus. I think his word is super correct and perfect. He has influenced me a lot. I have been through a lot of things in my life like everyone does. He has always helped me. Things have happened for me that if I told you guys, you would laugh or think it was a lie!!! Because he who has faith, who believes and knows what is possible! Even in the bible it says, “with God nothing is impossible!”

BALEIA- Do you have anything to say to your fans or people in jiu-jitsu?

LEO- Anyone who wants to train jiu-jitsu and admires me and my work, thank you very much! Thank you for the respect, the caring, and the attention that I get from the media and magazines. Thank you for the people who look at these things who are interested in me! When you go to an academy I suggest that you know the history of the teacher very well! Because, jiu-jitsu is not like gymnastics, you can’t go to the corner and train! Choose carefully your teacher! Because its very important for you are who you are learning from! You must see how he teaches and check his philosophy of jiu-jitsu is very important! Thank You All!

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Riccardo Ammendolia