Fabio Clemente is an important figure for the growth of jiu jitsu in New York, having opened one of the very first BJJ academies in the region, a team that has run successfully since the mid 1990’s. Fabio Clemente earned his black belt from Rigan Machado and was a member of the Machado Association before he joined the Alliance team in 1998; He was also responsible for bringing Marcelo Garcia to the US.
Fabio Clemente Jiu Jitsu
Full Name: Fábio Toscano Clemente
- Pan American Champion (2007, 2006 weight & absolute Senior 2, 1996 adult brown)
- Pan American Nogi Champion (2010 senior 2)
- Pan American Silver Medallist (2004 senior 1)
- International Masters & Seniors Bronze Medallist (2005, 2003)
Favourite Technique: N/A
Weight Division: Pesado & Pesadissimo
Fabio Clemente Biography
Fabio Clemente was born in 1965 and grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fabio’s father was a football/soccer coach who also practiced jiu jitsu, making competition a part of the Clemente family from the start. Fabio started his sporting activities from an early age, by practising several disciplines such as judo (which he started at the age of 9) and rowing. Around 1983 through a conversation with a friend, who was at the time a brown belt, Clemente was convinced to go and give jiu jitsu a try.
Fabio Clemente’s first class was at the Gracie Academy, the gym’s facilities were shared between Carlson Gracie and Carlos Gracie Junior (who had replaced Rolls Gracie after his death only a few months before). Fabio’s first coach was “Carlinhos” Gracie’s right hand man, Rigan Machado. Fabio Clemente thoroughly enjoyed his jiu jitsu class and kept at it, later moving with the team to Barra da Tijuca, in the birth of Gracie Barra, being mainly trained by Rigan Machado.
After a few years training with Rigan, he gave up jiu jitsu to travel to Paris with his wife, staying there for 4 years. As there was no jiu jitsu in Paris in those days, Clemente went back to judo, trying to do as much randori (ground work) as possible there. Clemente’s wife was a model, and as she got a visa to come and work in California Fabio, once again, came along. In California he had a chance to come back to jiu jitsu, rejoining his old instructors, the Machados brothers. In 1995 he moved to the East Coast, namely New York City where he finally settled and opened his own BJJ academy, in the same week when Renzo Gracie Academy opened its doors, making Fabio Clemente’s gym one of the oldest BJJ academies in the “Big Apple”.
Fabio was a brown belt when he opened his academy; he would receive his black belt after two consecutive wins at the Pan American Championships in the brown belt adult division. Around 1998, and after Clemente severed his bond with the Machado Jiu Jitsu association, Fabio Gurgel invited Clemente to become part of the Alliance Jiu Jitsu Academy. The deal suited both parties, and Clemente jumped on board, making his gym the original Alliance headquarters in New York.
In 2006 Fabio Clemente sponsored Marcelo Garcia’s visa, so he could come to New York and train at Clemente’s Studio-X (Fabio’s former gym). The experience was very successful, and the gym’s medal tally in major competitions grew from the close contact with the jiu jitsu legend. By 2007, when Marcelinho’s contract was up for renewal, a strange turn of events had the BJJ community in an uproar and the Clemente-Garcia duo had to be broken due to pressure from one of Clemente’s former students (Josh Griffiths) and Clemente’s partner at Studio X (more about this story on Josh Griffiths’ BJJ Heroes page). With these tribulations, Fabio Clemente opened his own gym and Marcelo Garcia left New York, though he returned a couple of years later.
Fabio Clemente @ International Masters and Seniors, 2005