Like many champions before him, Saul ‘Cassius Clay’ Cavalari overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to get to where he is now.
Cavalari, the new Glory Kickboxing Light Heavyweight Champion, comes from the martial arts hotbed of Curitiba, Brazil. Although Curitiba is a bustling modern city, it is also home to some of the poorest areas in Brazil.
"I grew up in a poor neighborhood with big criminality, but I never had problem with that," he says, matter-of-factly.
"For a while my mother raised me alone because my father had a problem with drugs and turned street dweller. Some years later my mother got married with a great man who educated me very well and put me in military school.
"I had a happy childhood. I remember almost all phases of my childhood fondly. I broke a lot of mirrors training in front of the wardrobe, shadow-boxing against myself! Also, I always liked animals. I had several dogs, cats, hamsters, birds… even a horse, at one point."
Kickboxing played a big part in Cavalari’s life from an early age. The energetic youngster was larger than his peers and boisterous too. He wanted to take up martial arts and his mother agreed that it would be a good outlet for his energy – but there were conditions attached.
"I began training kickboxing at 9 years old. I was the biggest of my age group and I seemed much older. I had an agreement with my mother: she permitted me to train in kickboxing but I had be a better student in school, because I was a little bit wild."
Cavalari, who’s mother passed away right before he went on a run of victories that culminated with Saturday night’s win over Zack Mwekassa, is just another in a long line of inspirational stories in FIGHT SPORTS.