Leila Lopes won Miss Universe in 2011 and now she’s started training BJJ with Fabio Gurgel and Renata Marinho in an Alliance Jiu-Jitsu affiliate in London, England. Lopes is an incredibly successful model and beauty queen who won Miss Angola in 2010 before going on to win Miss Universe the following the year. Lopes is also married to former NFL player Osi Umenyiora so she’s no stranger to what contact sports actually look like. Regardless, it’s still going to be tough for anyone to adjust to some of the physical demands and risks that are part of BJJ.
There have been an increasing number of celebrities getting involved with BJJ over the past decade or so but obviously it’s difficult for models and beauty queens to do a combat sport. It’s not unheard of for celebrities that need to rely on their appearance in some way to take part in much more toned down sparring sessions, or sometimes even avoid sparring altogether. Celebrities are just like any other new starter though, where taking a more relaxed approach for the first few sessions is generally better for retention. For Leila Lopes specifically, she’s in particularly safe hands if she’s training under BJJ legend and coral belt Fabio Gurgel.
Lopes isn’t actually the first model to take an interest in BJJ either, as supermodel Gisele Bundchen also started training BJJ under the Valente brothers. It’s unlikely that the sport will ever really take off in that world the same way it has for professional athletes, but it’s still interesting to see how much of a wide appeal the sport has. As with any other celebrity getting involved in BJJ, it’s only ever a good thing for the growth of the sport as it brings it to a much wider audience than ever before.
Leila Lopes uploaded some of the footage from her first training session with BJJ legend Fabio Gurgel and Renata Marinho in a recent post to her official Instagram account: