Many of the younger fans of our sport may not be aware of Omar Salum, but during the late 1990s, the Manaus athlete was THE most feared roosterweight on the globe, setting the record for most IBJJF World Championship titles (2) in 2000, which he held for 10 years. Unfortunately for Omar, and for us, the fans, Salum suffered a severe knee injury that year, which led to numerous surgeries and years without setting foot on a competitive arena. Once he did manage to return, Salum was a Masters athlete and his priorities had shifted.
Fast-forward 19 years since his last appearance at the famous World Championships and Salum is back! BJJ Heroes could not let this incredible moment go by unnoticed and reached out to the grappling legend for a comment on his return. “I was preparing my wife [Karoline Braga] for this event,” said Salum about the chain of events that led to his return. “I was rolling really well and feeling good again. I am in a happy place right now and I love to watch the new generation of champions compete, so I decided to grab this unique opportunity to be out there competing with them in the Pyramid” (Walter Pyramid).
When asked about what are the pros and cons of modern-day jiu-jitsu, Salum referenced that “today people are so much more professional, back in the day there was no physical training. We trained technique, but the physical side was totally overlooked” On the cons side “today’s rooster athletes do not follow jiu-jitsu’s structure. There is no stand-up, no guard passing, today grappling is all about strategy. This is the negative side I see today. The heart of this martial art is self-defense, and these fundamental elements are what will help you in a street altercation“.
But who does Omar see as his biggest rivals to his title run? Omar said that it is tough to choose one, “there are 3 world champs, Brazilian champs, and whatnot. It is hard to pick just one or two. Everybody is excellent, this is the major league of our sport. There is not one special guy. Everyone is special”.
Omar Salum is currently running his own Gracie Humaitá affiliate in Hemet California, a project he has been setting up for the past 12 months with the help of his wife. For his final thoughts, Omar Salum said he would like to “thank my wife who stood by me through a hard start, family and especially my mother that gave me so much support over the years and did not allow me to give up on myself and on my dream. Also to my coach, Royler Gracie who has helped me tremendously in preparing me for the big show.”
Gracie Humaitá – Hemet
2164 E Florida Ave, Hemet, CA 92544, USA