Guns, smugglers, and not possible needs: Glover Teixeira opens up on the ‘unsafe’ 43-day illegal breeze to U.S. that started all of it
Overcoming hurdles within the cage appears easy in comparison with what Glover Teixeira had overcome to meet the American dream.
Earlier than his shot at becoming the oldest man to be crowned a first-time UFC champion when he challenges Jan Blachowicz for the sunshine heavyweight belt on Oct. 30 at UFC 267, Teixeira unfolded love by no method sooner than about his breeze from Brazil to america as an illegal immigrant on MMA Combating’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca.
The Brazilian passe, who turns 42 the day sooner than UFC 267’s weigh-ins in Abu Dhabi, became as soon as one in every of many adolescents from the minute Brazil city of Sobralia who dreamed about leaving in pursuit of an even bigger lifestyles in america. The discipline became nasty in Brazil for an exodus of different folks attempting to enter the U.S. illegally, and Teixeira finally joined the pack.
“We had no cyber web connection back then, we had nothing, so we would possibly perhaps perhaps handiest factor in how america regarded love,” Teixeira said. “It became as soon as each and every kid’s dream. No person from Sobralia even tried to salvage a visa. We had guides that would possibly perhaps perhaps exercise us there via Mexico. Most of them came back after three or four years and sold vehicles or properties as soon as they returned.”
Teixeira decided to present it a try when he became as soon as proper a 19-year-ragged teenager, 5 years after his cousins left Sobralia to salvage a living in The US.
Crossing the border became as soon as already no easy job, however getting there became as soon as a challenge in and of itself.
“It’s stressful,” Teixeira said. “It took me 43 days to salvage here. All individuals knows how unsafe it is to uncomfortable the Mexico border. Other folks die, other folks salvage arrested, tortured. So [my mother] became as soon as very fervent, however moreover hopeful that her son became as soon as going after his dream, going after an even bigger lifestyles.”
Teixeira said he first hopped onto a bus to Rio de Janeiro with a group of 12 other folks and stayed within the city for per week to salvage his passport. The group then boarded a flight to Bogota, Colombia, and then started a breeze via Guatemala and other South American countries Teixeira barely remembers visiting two a long time later.
“I became as soon as having masses of fun,” Teixeira said. “I became as soon as 19, proper? I didn’t care. I became as soon as attractive each and every evening and getting wasted masses of the time. But we went via some provoking locations. We were on an island in Guatemala with the [natives]. They were good other folks however that you would possibly perhaps worth there became as soon as no police there, there became as soon as nothing. They handled us in actual fact nicely, however the guides were clearly bribing everybody.
“It’s unsafe. Some of my friends were troublemakers so we saved telling them to preserve it frosty because we were in an even discipline.”
The group finally made it to Tijuana, Mexico. From there, the set got trickier.
Teixeira and his fellow illegal immigrants needed to be orderly and stay up for the last note timing to exercise a see at to uncomfortable the border, in any other case they would seemingly salvage caught by the patrol.
“I stayed in Tijuana for eight days, awaiting the fog to reach so the helicopter and immigration other folks wouldn’t worth us,” Teixeira said. “We needed to attend for a genuine fog to uncomfortable the desolate tract at evening.”
The group managed to uncomfortable the border “swiftly” and “with out any stress,” he said, and at ultimate got to the U.S. in “four or 5 hours.”
Teixeira’s mother would possibly perhaps perhaps barely sleep at some level of that 20-day duration in which her son went radio mute, misplaced in a void and unreachable. Nevertheless, the family had no theory that the scariest step of Teixeira’s breeze serene awaited for when the baby arrived in San Diego.
“We needed to preserve in this condominium in San Diego for 12 days, awaiting the guidelines to pay the coyotes [the people who smuggled us across the border],” Teixeira said. “They didn’t let us hump away [the room] sooner than they got paid. We handiest ate as soon as a day, a cut of bread with beans. I misplaced 26 kilos.
“We ate nicely at some level of all of the day out in Colombia, we had barbecue with the [natives] in Guatemala, we sold food in Tijuana while we were there. But in San Diego, man, we were locked up except they got paid. We handiest ate as soon as a day, we couldn’t hump away the room. They’d guns and the entire lot, awaiting the cash.”
Teixeira said the smugglers had supplied each and each one in every of the Sobralia males a possibility to effect the illegal border crossing for free. All they needed to effect became as soon as lift a backpack with them and produce it to a particular person in San Diego, however Teixeira declined the provide.
“I’m now no longer taking something else. Are you crazy?” said Teixeira, who misplaced his bear backpack at some level of the day out and had nothing however the clothes he became as soon as wearing when he arrived in San Diego.
“I don’t know what they are asking us to bring. I judge it became as soon as medication or weapon, I don’t know. I didn’t even worth it, I proper said I wouldn’t exercise it. That became as soon as now no longer fragment of the deal. The deal became as soon as taking me to the U.S. to work, I by no method said about taking something else to anyone.”
The teenage Teixeira’s indispensable quandary while he became as soon as locked in a room with armed males exterior the doorways became as soon as having to flip back spherical and return to Brazil, however the guidelines finally paid the smugglers and Teixeira became as soon as free to circulate. He straight away took a business flight to Boston and then left for Connecticut, where he lives to this day in Danbury.
Twenty-three years later, Teixeira doesn’t advise other folks to exercise the an identical course as he did. He admits he “paid a huge worth” for years to reach. His first years as an illegal immigrant within the U.S. were proper though. The Teixeira family by no method anticipated Glover to preserve for goodbye, however he fall in love with the nation “on the principle day I got here,” the fighter says, as soon as he realized he would possibly perhaps perhaps receives a fee $10 an hour to shovel snow from the sidewalks.
Changing into an MMA fighter
Not like most other Brazilian adolescents, Teixeira hated soccer. He loved looking out at athletes prepare and hoped to finally receives a fee to prepare his physique in a method, however seeing boxing vital particular person Mike Tyson knock other folks out in vicious style caught his attention. Teixeira had seen UFC passe Marco Ruas compete as soon as sooner than on TV, however boxing became as soon as diversified.
After incomes his first American greenbacks, Teixeira enlisted at a boxing gymnasium to study to punch other folks within the face. Days later, he became as soon as requested by a chum to exercise a see at his excellent fortune in an arm-wrestling tournament. Diminutive did he know that he became as soon as signing up for a Toughman Contest.
Teixeira labored all day as a chippie sooner than finding out he became as soon as scheduled to compete in an newbie boxing match that same evening. In a method, it labored out. Teixeira beat a pair of “tomato cans” in his debut within the ring, then returned the next day for the semifinal.
“I requested for a spoil day within the carpentry however I became as soon as broken, my muscle tissue were f*cked up because I had by no method punched love that sooner than,” remembers Teixeira, who sooner or later gained his semifinal match via possibility however had his confronted “destroyed” throughout.
He misplaced the closing by nook stoppage.
“My buddy told me sooner than the second spherical that he would throw within the towel if I didn’t effect something else,” he said. “I became as soon as love, ‘OK, I’ll effect it,’ however then I attempted to punch him and ate a huge uppercut. He says I checked out him love, ‘Received’t you throw it?’ But I don’t maintain in thoughts any of that. [Laughs.] He threw within the towel and I didn’t complain. I became as soon as getting my ass kicked.”
Though he would possibly perhaps perhaps also goal were — by his bear admission — “broken” by his first attempt in strive in opposition to sports actions, Teixeira returned to the gymnasium fervent to work even more difficult to preserve the next Toughman Contest. But then a chum approached him with an even bigger conception.
“You need to to fight UFC,” the buddy said.
Teixeira had no conception what the Final Combating Championship even became as soon as in currently, so he sat down in front of a TV and watched a VHS tape of the principle three events. He became as soon as twisted straight away. Teixeira signed up for jiu-jitsu lessons the next morning and straight away started training with a crimson belt in Danbury.
Six months later and clearly now no longer ready yet for the duty, Teixeira alternatively jubilant his coach to win him a fight. Teixeira became as soon as swiftly booked in opposition to Eric Schwartz, a teammate of Chuck Liddell’s, at WEC 3. The tournament became as soon as held at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, Calif., which made it doable for an illegal immigrant to compete.
“I got my ass kicked,” Teixeira remembers with a snicker. “Eric Schwartz would hump toe-to-toe with Chuck within the gymnasium and I took him down, he got desperate there however finally got back up. The principal spherical became as soon as terminate however I gassed and he broke me within the second. I would preserve there throwing fingers love crazy and sprawling, however he took me down, got the mount, and the referee stopped it.”
Teixeira became as soon as humbled in his MMA debut, however did sufficient to galvanize Schwartz’s coach John Hackleman. Teixeira became as soon as serene facing the aftermath of a beating when Hackleman stopped by to congratulate him for his efficiency, pronouncing he had by no method seen somebody endure the punishment Schwartz dealt him and proceed to march forward.
When Hackleman invited him to be fragment of Liddell’s camp at The Pit for the American’s upcoming UFC fight, Teixeira didn’t judge twice. And that’s when his lifestyles begin to change.
The Brazilian prospect gained four of his subsequent 5 fights sooner than being paired up in opposition to Rameau Sokoudjou, who would hump on to salvage waves in Japan by knocking out Ricardo Arona and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira months later. Teixeira gained by first-spherical knockout.
“A amount of different folks came after me after I knocked out Sokoudjou, even the UFC,” Teixeira said. “PRIDE known as, however I couldn’t hump away the nation. EliteXC came with a contract that I cried for now no longer being in a situation to brand. It became as soon as $10,000 [to show] and $10,000 [to win], and then $15,000 and $15,000, something love that, and I couldn’t brand with them. It became as soon as disappointing.”
Teixeira knew that his profession couldn’t evolve from proper competing on tribal lands except he figured out his acceptable situation within the U.S., and a lawyer said his most piquant likelihood at getting a visa became as soon as by going back to Brazil and writing a letter to the consulate asking for forgiveness.
“The principal 5 years were advanced, and I ended up staying here [in the U.S.] for 9 years and eight months with out seeing my mother or my family,” Teixeira said. “I went back [to Brazil] with [UFC president] Dana White’s note. He shook my hand and said, ‘Sail salvage your papers because you’re coming to the UFC.’ I went to Brazil to attend for this pardon.
“[I knew] I became as soon as f*cking proper. I knowledgeable with Chuck Liddell, the most piquant on this planet, and at that level became as soon as on his stage already. I maintain in thoughts he hugged me after our ultimate sparring [session] when I became as soon as leaving and said, ‘I do know you’ll change into champion. These guys can’t address you.’
“I maintain in thoughts Chuck Liddell told Dana White, ‘I even maintain a man within the gymnasium that would possibly perhaps perhaps KO [Michael Bisping] interior two rounds. I’d bet my condominium on him.’ And Dana became as soon as love, ‘He’s that proper?’ I knew I had doable, and that’s why I went back to Brazil and risked by no method coming back.”
Sadly, Teixeira became as soon as denied a visa in his first attempt. He started to hunt files from whether he would by no method salvage it and “by no method fulfill my dream of struggling with for a rotund promotion thanks to something slow I did within the previous of getting into [the country] illegally.”
“I cried, man. I cried. I couldn’t give it some belief,” he said. “I didn’t know what to effect.”
From a doable UFC fighter to a talent stranded exterior the U.S., the duration became as soon as a jarring one in Teixeira’s lifestyles. He belief about spicy back to Sobralia to resolve out his future while his associate stayed within the U.S. But as a change, he spoke alongside with his coach Pedro Rizzo and decided to fight each and every man positioned in front of him except he had his acceptable set figured out.
“I became as soon as struggling with everybody,” Teixeira said. “Heavyweight, light heavyweight, something else. There became as soon as a time I fought four times in two months. Other folks belief I became as soon as crazy, that I would salvage hurt, however I became as soon as love, ‘Who’s going to hurt me? These guys gained’t hurt me.’”
At one level in 2011, Teixeira finished UFC veterans Marcio Cruz, Antonio Mendes, and Marvin Eastman over a span of 37 days, then finished feeble UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez within the principle spherical proper three months after that.
“That became as soon as proper because it made me stronger,” Teixeira said. “It became as soon as rather disappointing because I had no conception what became as soon as occurring. A year passed by, two years, three years, and nothing. Nothing. Zero. No resolution. You’d seek files from [the consulate] and they had no conception what you were talking about. All they said became when I needed to attend.”
The set lastly changed when Teixeira’s associate decided to pen a letter to democrat Chris Murphy, a junior senator for Connecticut, who then swooped in to intervene.
Teixeira became as soon as requested to reach to the consulate on Dec. 23, 2011, the date of his associate’s birthday, for one other interview.
Three days later, his passport came back with a visa.
“I handiest study that letter after I got my citizenship,” Teixeira said with a smile on his face. “And I cried, man. I cried.”
Finally free to re-enter the U.S., the sunshine heavyweight prospect became as soon as swiftly paired up in opposition to Kyle Kingsbury for his UFC debut in Also can goal 2012. He choked Kingsbury out in under two minutes. Teixeira ended up struggling with feeble champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson eight months later and now no longer easy Jon Jones for the belt in April 2014.
In retrospect, Teixeira misplaced years of his high struggling with for a visa and would possibly perhaps perhaps also now no longer ever salvage these years back. But he moreover saved proving other folks inappropriate after the loss to Jones.
Now he’s one more time one step some distance off from being crowned a UFC champion, proper as Liddell predicted all these years ago.
“I realized to by no method seek files from God’s will,” Teixeira said. “If He did that, it became as soon as for a goal. I’m 42, making history and struggling with for the belt. A hit this belt and making real history. It’s all proper, man. Nearly 10 years within the company, 20 fights, and here I’m. A tiny bit leisurely, however 10 years is correct time for somebody who got in so leisurely.”
Test out Teixeira’s interview about his breeze on MMA Combating’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca.