Fighter Series: Salvatore Sanguinetti
Salvatore Sanguinetti is a 2nd degree black belt in Jiu Jitsu and is the founder/head coach of Guardian Gym Peru.
Born in Peru, Salvatore had to learn to survive on his own from a young age. When he was only a child, his mother left for the United States. He walked the streets on his own, often experiencing rough events from the nearby environment. He often had to sleep on the streets and deal with constant hunger.
When Salvatore was 15, he found a mentor. With help from his new mentor, he got into school and stayed away from the “dark side” (referring to the life path of crime and drugs) that many youth commonly turn to.
When he got older, Salvatore went to America to visit his mother. While in the states, he met up with his cousin, former UFC fighter and Jiu Jitsu black belt: Kenny Florian. It was through Kenny that Salvatore discovered Jiu Jitsu. In addition to improving his grappling skills, Salvatore saw that Jiu Jitsu had the ability to help with life in general. He saw how people consistently improved on the mats, which often translated to progress in life outside of the gym like overcoming emotional troubles and mental hardships. After seeing this with his own eyes, he knew that he wanted to bring this back to his community in Peru.
Now, he says his life purpose is to help the youth in Peru, in a similar way that he was helped by his own mentor as a teen. If he can help it, he wants to prevent the teeneagers from turning down the dark path of crime and drugs.
With the help of Guardian Gym, he does exactly this. When students come to train, everyone is all smiles and positive energy! Laughing and learning, the kids are inspired by their coach to train hard, despite the individual situations and hardships they face. As one of the few positive influences in the community, Coach Salvatore is not only a Jiu Jitsu instructor. He is a life mentor and friend to his students. He helps them with the situations that the children deal with at home: abuse, domestic violence, and much more. He is fully transparent and is constantly communicating with the families of the students, to ensure they are all doing well outside of the gym.
While Calder Powers (director of the Guardian Project) and the Guardian team were in Peru, they got to listen in on one of Coach Salvatore’s after-class talks. After reviewing the footage and translating, Salvatore said the following in his speech to his students:
“Sometimes we are sad, no matter the cause. The important thing is that we come here, onto the tatami, and leave better than when we entered. You understand—sometimes we arrive with problems from home, work, or school; it doesn't matter. We work through it here. That's why we have to train hard to release the negative energies from our body. Every time we train, we leave everything behind and honor the time we've spent on the tatami, which makes us strong. Even if this training has been the worst you've had all year, it has already made you better. This is where you see who you are, where the problems and obstacles lie, and yet you're facing them. That's what makes you better. It helps you grow as a human being and know yourself internally. Each one of you is a different world; you are not the same. I'm not the same as you either; my perspectives and projections are different. Yet, we all share the same space, group, and community, and that's what it's all about: sticking together so we can all move forward. Always be thankful that you have a home, a roof, a plate of food, a father, a mother, some friends. Gratitude is the most important thing. Be grateful, because there are hard times that we all go through, but we are ready and prepared to face them. Always be thankful for what little we have, knowing that even that little bit is abundant for us. Sometimes, on many occasions, we all experience problems, frustrations, and sadness. It's normal to feel this way; understand those emotions and let them flow, let them pass. It's completely normal; don't suppress them. If you have to cry, cry; if you have to get angry, then get angry; if you have to kick something, then kick something. But always return to your center and surround yourself with positive people. I can't emphasize this enough—positivity. These are your true friends. You are intelligent children, skillful teachers. If you weren't here, this community wouldn't exist. Imagine the potential you have, not just for championships but for life. When you leave school, when you choose your partners, when you make your friends, remember that you are the architects of your own life and you have to believe in yourself. No one else is going to give you the solution. Keep that in mind and always listen to your heart; it will guide the way.”
We would like to give a special thank you to Guardian Gym for making this Fighter Series possible and providing the opportunity for underprivileged youth to train Jiu Jitsu. Visit the links below to learn more about the Guardian Project and ways that you can help them.