Jackson Sousa, also known as “Jack” or “Jackzinho”, is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Rico Vieira, competitor out of the Fightzone academy in Rio de Janeiro – Checkmat Academy headquarters, and another “child” of Vieira’s social project at the Cantagalo slums. Jackson Sousa, a rising sporting star, remained for years in the limelight of Jiu Jitsu due to his long time struggle to obtain a US visa that allowed him to compete at a world stage. This important passport stamp came in 2013 and with it came also consecutive wins at the Mundial (World Championship), No Gi World Championship and Pro League, all of which cemented Jackson Sousa’s status as one of the top Jiu Jitsu athletes of his generation.
Favorite Position/Technique: Single Leg X-Guard
Weight Division: Peso Pesado (94kg/207lbs)
Team/Association: CheckMat BJJ
Jackson Sousa was born on the 24th of January, 1990 at the Instituto Fernandes Figueira (IFF) maternity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His sporting life started early, playing beach football/soccer, but at the age of 10 he was invited by a friend to come and try a Jiu Jitsu class at the social project led by Ricardo Vieira and Tererê in the Cantagalo Slums where Jackson grew up. Jackson tried one class and was hooked.
At the social project/BJJ school, his main coach was Leandro Martins. An inspirational figure for youngsters of the Cantagalo slums that is often forgotten by the Jiu Jitsu main stream. Leandro (an accomplished black belt who was paramount in Tererê’s recovery from drug abuse) led Jackson from white to blue belt, after Jackson reached blue belt level, Ricardo Vieira took over the teenager’s training.
Growing up in the favela, Jackson looked up to several Jiu Jitsu champions, also born in the Cantagalo slums who found a way to better their lives through BJJ. These were the cases of Alan ‘Finfou’ Nascimento, Bruno Matias, Sandro Vieira, ‘Trator’ (Douglas Rufino) and many others who served as real life examples to lead by and who kept Sousa away from a life of crime, a life only too common in the harsh Cantagalo environment.
Although Jackson tore up the Brazilian national circuit for a long time, he spent years unnoticed by the foreign media, a media that occasionally misses the diamonds in the rough still existing in Brazil. Those who cannot make a name for themselves at international events due to lack of sponsorship or who find it hard to get a visa approved to fight in the United States. On January 2012 however, Jackson turned a few heads his way after he found the sponsors to come and compete at the European Open in Portugal, a tournament he won a gold at his weigh division and silver at the open weight. After a couple more attempts at that US visa, in 2013 he was finally accepted to visit American soil. This blessing allowed Jackson to be internationally recognized as one of the top fighters of 2013 a deed he accomplished with 3 consecutive World class tournaments wins (Mundial, World Championship No Gi and IBJJF Pro League).