One of our sport’s hottest prospects, Darin Conner DeAngelis (DC) recently made a big career decision, that of leaving, arguably, the biggest jiu-jitsu training center in the world – Atos San Diego HQ, and moving to the neighboring rival team Legion American Jiu-Jitsu, where DC rejoined his former Atos training partner Keenan Cornelius.
Born in South Carolina, and currently 23 years old, DeAngelis arrived in San Diego 5 years ago (2015), after his former SC training partner Dominique Bell referenced the team a few years prior to the move: “Dominique Bell was a friend and training partner of mine in South Carolina. Someone I really admired. He told me while I was still in high school that he was moving out to San Diego to train at Atos. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world (…) Then I started researching André Galvão[Atos team leader] and learning how incredible he is as well. I thought if he could do it so could I… He [Dom] didn’t believe I was really going to come out at first, but when I showed up we started living together and I started learning and drilling with him a ton. He has been one of the main influencers, along with Liera, on my jiu-jitsu style“, Conner referenced in an interview with BJJ Heroes held in July 2020.
Arriving as a blue belt, DC’s new team mindset was very straight forward, “at Atos the culture is very much: train as much as possible as hard as possible. Compete/create social media success.” DeAngelis dove right in, going from an anonymous blue belt to a blue and purple belt world champion. The team MO proved to be a success on the mats, though as Conner matured to adulthood, so did his views on the future:
“When I turned 22 I started having to think more about the money aspect of jiu-jitsu. I continued to train still about 8 times a week with some lifting as well but started to develop other interests. I didn’t see how to earn a good living from jiu-jitsu, other than owning a gym or being the absolute best. My mind was so focused on becoming a black belt world champion, before these new thoughts rushed in, that I didn’t think of how to use my jiu-jitsu success/knowledge to actually make a future/life for myself.” This, DeAngelis argues, was at the core of his recent career decision.
“I became friends with Keenan from the start of my Atos experience due to our somewhat nerdy, reclusive tendencies and our love for computer games“, the young South Carolina native explained. “This is actually how Andris, Keenan, and I became good friends. I eventually moved from living with Dom to live with both of them for a time period then moved to live just with Keenan for about 6 months as I was working for him and helping run his website“.
DeAngelis and Keenan started seeing less of each other once Cornelius left André Galvão’s academy in April 2019. These recent thoughts on his career’s future, however, had DC pondering on Keenan’s revolutionary ideas: “I started realizing that Keenan was doing something different in the realm of making money in jiu-jitsu through his online business, which when I was with him was just starting“.
During the COVID19 lockdown period, Conner reconnected with Legion’s leader, Cornelius, and discussed a lot of his financial worries. These discussions led DeAngelis to set his mind on switching camps, “I realized that moving to Legion was the best way to calm my mind, learn from him, learn how he created this amazing online success and already a very successful gym.”
Although Legion’s squad is young and not as talent dense as DC DeAngelis’ previous camp, it is growing in size and has already captured the interest of several accomplished athletes, including Europe’s Miha Perhavec and Bruno Lima, as well as brown belt Austin Fraley and the mega-talented lightweight Andris Brunovskis. American jiu-jitsu is on the rise and with a talent such as DC DeAngelis, it is easy to foresee a bright future ahead for the team.