One of the remarkable creations of 2019 was that of the Dream Art Project. Lead by last year’s black belt middleweight world champion, Isaque Bahiense, the project began in mid-October 2018, a time when its athletes started to arrive.
The first name to join the team was that of (now) brown belt, Luiz Paulo, who competed at the UAEJJF Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam as a purple belt and from there went straight to São Paulo to train full time at the project. After Luiz, other notable athletes started to arrive. The most recognizable faces being those of the Muniz Brothers, who left Nova União to join Dream Art.
Promoted on September 2019, Anna Rodrigues was the first athlete from this workgroup to earn a black belt and now leads the female side of the project with athletes such as brown belt Letícia Yuka (former Guigo student) and the purple belt Larissa Martins who was a prominent figure this year as a blue belt.
Today, the team is based in ‘Fight4Fit’, a gym located in the southwest area of São Paulo city, in a district named Brooklyn, though everything spawned from a chat between Isaque and Alliance teammate Warley Pimentel.
“I believe that Dream Art started with a vision that I’ve always had. I started [training] in a social project with my first professor, Fabio Andrade, in Bangu [Rio de Janeiro], so I always carried it with me. Last year, I started a little project at Alliance – São Paulo, where I trained, alongside a few friends from the gym. The academy has since taken over the project, as I re-focussed in my career“, said Bahiense.
In addition, he talked about his talk with Pimentel. “I think that [talk] at that time was a very happy coincidence. He also had an idea for making something like that and invited me to talk with our friend ‘Zaca’ [Marcio Oliveira], one of the owners of the gym [Fight4Fit]. We did a real little project which is now in plain sight“.
Pimentel supported the team in partnership with his company Starboard Partners, a company focused on financial consulting. In the beginning, the idea was to sponsor only 4 athletes, but they are now 30 in São Paulo and 10 more at the Dream Art affiliation in Manaus.
A lot of people want to know how to be part of Dream Art, Isaque explains: “We try to bring athletes who have consistency in the sport. Many people say we only want to have champions, and of course, if we have the opportunity to have athletes with results, we will pick them. However, this is not our only selection criteria. We have many belts here. Our idea is to be able to empower and give an opportunity to young people who have talent“.
Bahiense said that they want to be different from other casual projects around Brazil. They not only offer accommodation and hard training, but also English classes, access to higher education [college], medical support and more.
Isaque also takes the opportunity to say that it is not just about money, but about the willpower of partners like Pimentel, who made it happen. “It’s about the person that he is [Pimentel]. He loves the project even though he doesn’t see a financial return from it. His idea is to be able to empower human beings. For that, we have a structure of English classes and adult education programs for the athletes who haven’t finished their studies. We have 6 athletes who are doing college too“, said Bahiense. He, himself who finished his compulsory education this year as he had abandoned school as a 15yo to dedicate himself to training.
This incredible workgroup is excited about this upcoming year, having grown exponentially since their opening. In a few days, the project will move from Fight4Fit to a new, 100% Dream Art-focused training center with a mat, physical training and accommodation, purposely built for all athletes.
“People often say ‘Isaque’s Project’, but truth be told, there are a lot of people involved, all crucial to making this happen“, concluded Bahiense.