Bruno Pucci never had it easy. In fact, it seems like the odds were stacked against him since the day he was born.
Growing up in Curitiba, Brazil, he was a hefty child who was bullied a lot, had very few friends, and coped with the heartache and other familial issues surrounding his parents’ separation. Also, he was abnormally short, and by the age of ten, the doctors diagnosed him with pediatric growth hormone deficiency.
For the next five years, Pucci had to receive treatment in the form of daily injections to correct the disorder. But in addition to the injections, the doctor also offered a valuable piece of advice to him and his father.
“Basically, the doctor recommended me to play a sport to help with my condition,” the 26-year-old recalls. “I tried a couple of sports, but I never stuck to any of them.”
The budding athlete nicknamed “Puccibull” didn’t exhibit any natural talent for skateboarding, football, or tennis, and although he excelled at swimming, the activity did not hold his interest.
On a random afternoon in 2004, however, as the Brazilian was roaming the neighborhood with his dad, they discovered a martial arts academy. The dojo offered classes in a variety of disciplines, including Muay Thai, karate, and boxing.
That immediately appealed to Pucci, who had been a fan of action movies featuring the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme. As a result, he developed quite a fascination for striking disciplines.
Despite an initial fondness for punching and kicking, his dad suggested that he try out a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class instead. Young Pucci complied, tried out a class, and was hooked. There was one technique, in particular, that sold him on the “gentle art.”
“I learned an armbar, and found the move cool. I did not know what it was about. It was different from my perspective. I was not just thinking about punches. I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is very effective’ because they put me in an armbar and I could not escape, so that got my attention,” he admits.
Three months into his training, his coach invited him to test his skills in competition. From that moment on, Pucci participated in as many tournaments as possible. Also, the aspiring mat wizard lost the excess weight, transformed into a strapping young athlete, and gained self-defense skills in the process. Needless to say, the bullying also stopped.
At the age of 16, he took his jiu-jitsu pursuits more seriously, and dreamed about becoming a world champion. He spent most of his free time on the mats, determined to get better and achieve his primary objective.
Early on, however, he did not gave a reputation for winning. The Brazilian had subpar performances, even when facing opponents with the same ranking, and had quite a few uncertainties he desperately needed to conquer.
“There was a point in the beginning where I did not know if I was going to make it. I was so nervous. Mentally, I could not compete. I was doing awful in competitions, but the next day I was always back in the gym training,” he explains.
“I used to compete almost every weekend. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost, but the next day I was training already. I saw how hard it is to be a world champion, so I just said I would try my best and see what happens.”
The more Pucci trained, the more confident he became. His techniques were continuously being refined, and unsurprisingly, he was performing better in competition. All of that hard work and dedication culminated in 2009, when he won the No-Gi BJJ World Championship. He would win again in 2010.
“There is no one training more than me. Maybe I am not as talented as some guys who win in their first attempt, but I will keep trying and do my best,” he re-affirms. “There is no secret. As long as you train hard and work hard, and keep doing it, then there is no way to fail. It is not easy and it takes a long time to become a world champion, but I had the confidence. I did well.”
Puccibull, who was awarded his black belt by Sebastian Lalli in 2012, knows exactly what it takes to become a world champion, and he is looking to take that championship pedigree and replicate it in mixed martial arts.
The Evolve MMA representative made his professional debut in 2011 and has garnered a record of 4-2, with all four victories coming by way of rear-naked choke. While he has experienced a few setbacks in recent years, he is focused on becoming the ONE Featherweight World Champion one day.
Pucci will take a step towards his next major goal on Friday, 30 June, when he meets Jimmy “The Silencer” Yabo at ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION in Yangon, Myanmar. He may not know exactly what will happen, but his confidence and unbreakable spirit have yet to let him down.