Currently a brown belt, Alexandria Enriquez made waves on October 2020 by dominating her division – featherweight – and the absolute at the IBJJF Pan American Championships (gi), going on to equal her mark in November, at the IBJJF Pan American No-Gi Championships with another double gold performance.
Enriquez’s style is easy to spot on the mats, her staggered stance suggests an experienced wrestler, while her sharp transitions on the ground point to a lifetime of jiu-jitsu. That is exactly what Alex brings to the table, experience, and success across a multitude of grappling sports.
Originally from the Philippines, the now 21-year-old moved to Atlanta, Georgia (US), with her family, as a young child. Once in North America, it didn’t take long for Alex to find her calling in sports. “I started Brazilian jiu-jitsu during the Summer of 6th grade,” Enriquez explained to BJJ Heroes in a January 2021 interview. “I started JJ because of my older brother” she expanded, “he always wanted to be a fighter and when we moved from the Philippines to the US, he found this gym – Knuckle Up. At the time my parents were trying to find me a hobby or sport as an after-school activity and that is how I found jiu-jitsu. I immediately fell in love with it and started 6 to 7 days per week as a kid.”
Her passion for jiu-jitsu transpired in the competitive scene and by 2013 Enriquez conquered the IBJJF Pans Kids Championship, the biggest kids BJJ tournament in the USA.
Committed to improving all aspects of her BJJ game, once Alex reached high school she decided to take advantage of the local wrestling program by joining the team at Cambridge High School in Alpharetta, Georgia: “I started wrestling to get better at jiu-jitsu. I really enjoy it now, I have found a passion for it, but it was very difficult as it didn’t come as easy as jiu-jitsu. At the start, I did it because I knew I needed to be good and comfortable on my feet in takedowns.”
An “all-male” team was Alex’s only available path towards wrestling at Cambridge, nothing that would detour the talented grappler. Guided by coach Don St. James, Enriquez was made captain of the JV team and eventually broke through to the varsity line-up.
View this post on Instagram
Plagued by injuries and finding it hard to breakthrough in the team, Enriquez’s spirit remained unbroken as explained by the Georgian: “I got beat up a lot at varsity, but it made me stronger and I learned a lot from it. It taught me how to lose and overcome adversity because the feeling was definitely unfamiliar in comparison with jiu-jitsu where I always won as a kid.”
Enriquez ended her high-school wrestling career with plenty of achievements worthy of note on her record. As a freshman, Alex gained 3rd Place at the Girls Folkstyle Nationals (2014), she went on to train freestyle in the off-season. Earning 4th Place in the Cadet Division at Fargo and a 3rd Place at the Junior Nationals, also at Fargo making an overall of 3 All American Placements in one year.
After conquering the South East Regionals and the Georgia Girls State Championship, Alex Enriquez moved to college at Life University getting third at the WCWA Nationals.
While maintaining a steady pace in freestyle and folkstyle wrestling, Enriquez kept her sights on jiu-jitsu, her passion.
Guided by Steve Mitchell from Knuckle Up, Alex went on to conquer 4 medals at the IBJJF Pan American Championships and silver at the World Championships in the colored belt divisions. “Steve is a father figure to me, he promoted me from white, through the kids’ program, and all the way to brown belt“, said Enriquez of her former coach.
View this post on Instagram
Midway through 2020, Enriquez switched camps, to the Atos Academy in Atlanta with former Pan American and Brazilian Nationals champ, Bruno Frazatto – a decision fully supported by Mitchell. “Our program at Knuckle Up wasn’t doing too well because of COVID,” Alex explained. While COVID19 was hindering the rhythm of the classes, head coach Steve was looking to start a family, with a baby on the way and could no longer teach as regularly as he had done in the past – “He couldn’t teach full time so, under his blessing, I decided to switch to professor Bruno Frazatto. I love the training I have received under him and the opportunities he’s given me as well.”
Alex made her debut as an Atos representative with a superb gold medal performance at the Pan American Championships in 2020, going even further a few months later with double gold at the no-gi pans, making it look almost easy.
With youth, determination and a wealth of grappling experience, the sky’s the limit for Alex Enriquez. An athlete we hope to see compete plenty often in 2021.