Angelica Galvao is one of the most prominent females in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She is a War Tribe sponsored athlete, 2014 Worlds champion, mother, and wife. Angelica’s first contact with Jiu Jitsu in 2003 would eventually lead her to meet the love of her life, but she got started when friends told her how fun it was. She decided to give it a try, and even though her first day left her with skinned knees and very sore, she kept on coming.
Angelica remembers a time when Jiu Jitsu wasn’t very well recognized. She describes a simple gym with “no front desk, wall mats, AC, or shower. Basically, we had the mats on the floor, a single restroom in the back, a sink next to the mats where we drank the water from, all this inside a place with a double roll up door.” On especially hot days, gi tops would come off as students walked outside to breath.
There weren’t many women dominating the sport at the time. Leticia Ribeiro, Hannette Stack, and Leka Viera were some of the bigger names that Angelica could look up to. However, there wasn’t social media like there is today. It was harder to find and keep up with the other women in the community.
When Angelica moved to Sao Paulo, she was 18 and in love. Even though she was so far from her family, she describes how the move benefited their relationship. “[He] has always been awesome to me. We began to build a solid relationship, even though we were both young. As far as our relationship, I had no doubt that he was the man of my life.” It wasn’t long after that Angelica found out she was pregnant. She trained from 2003 until October 2005. The way she sees it, it was meant to be. “I found out that I was pregnant during my first trip to the US. On the third day, we were sleeping and the dog began to bark… Andre got up and the kitchen was on fire, the whole house was destroyed…We lost all the clothes in the fire… Everything, but the passport that was inside the bible. My birth control…was also lost in the fire, and that is how everything changed. God saved us that day and on top of that gave us a new life to take care of.”
After five years, Angelica was back on the mats. She and Andre opened up a small gym, and after training for a year, he pushed her to compete. She took gold at the 2011 Worlds as a purple belt, and her career has steadily grown since then. Angelica is aware that “carrying Galvao as [her] last name can be pretty heavy. People expect you to be as good as your husband.” But Angelica enjoys competing and is good at it. Angelica feels blessed to have the love of her life, as both her husband and coach. She admits though that some days it can be tough to “separate being mad at [her] coach, and [love] her husband, but there is no difficult time that surpasses the pleasure of having Andre as [her] head.” She is both is biggest fan and his biggest supporter, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Angelica is a mom and wife first and a competitor second. She balances running a house, raising their daughter, Sarah (prefers Jazz dance to BJJ), with teaching at the gym, and helping to run the business. While she may “wish for ten more hours a day,” she is a driven and successful female in the sport. She thinks it’s amazing how many more women are training and competing and offers these words of wisdom to women out there “If you are a lady, I would suggest looking for a safe environment where you can have support, encouragement, and training partners that truly respect and include you. And don’t give up! It is confusing in the beginning, but after a while you will regret not having started it before.”