From Wheelchair to Black Belt
Location: London, UK
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Photo by: Oliver Smith
For the first three years of his life, Fabio Fornoni spent them in a hospital due to being born with superelasticity in both legs. When he eventually came out of the hospital, he was in a wheelchair and unable to walk.
Subject to bullying, he described the experience as never having a “best friend.”
“A lot of kids used to bully me,” he recalls, “my immune system wasn’t perfect…I had a lot of surgeries. Guys in my class used to laugh at this.”
Unfortunately, for many who appear ‘different’ to others, bullying is commonplace. Name-calling, being made to feel excluded, and physical abuse is all too common.
Fabio was no exception, “They used to call me flat foot, duck foot… a cripple, the guy who doesn’t move properly.”
Most people would have given up at this point and caved to what life/society would have had him to believe, but not Fabio. He chose the path less traveled and decided to strive for more and not give in to the fears, doubts, and struggles… a true warrior’s mindset.
Often being left out of team sports, he admits it made him feel sad, but all the while, something inside of him was working away. It was motivation to show all the people around him that he could pull out the ‘beast,’ that he could work and one day be stronger than the bullies.
And then, he found Jiu-Jitsu.
“BOOM!” he remembers fondly, “It was like there was a sport where my weakness can be my power. All the time I spent in a wheelchair made me stronger.”
From that point on, there was no stopping him. Eventually, receiving his Black Belt under Luiz Ribeiro, there’s “nothing else” he would want to do with his life.
At this point in his life, Fabio made a choice, a choice that many don’t make for any number of reasons. The choice to pursue something challenging, to put in the work day-in and day-out, and never give up.
It’s amazing what you can do when you focus and don’t listen to the crowd. People always doubt, but what truly matters is, do you doubt yourself? If you know you have what it takes, put in the work and don’t tell; show people what you’re made of. The results will amaze you.
Looking back, he thinks of words his Grandma used to say to him,
“Nothing happens for Nothing. My past prepared me for my present and maybe my future. Everyone can have this improvement in their lives.
“Jiu-Jitsu can make a difference.”