Ricardo Pires: The Driving Force Behind The Santa Marta Project4 months ago
Discover the passionate journey of Ricardo Pires, a guiding light in Rio's vibrant communities, who opens pathways to professional MMA for local talents through the transformative Santa Marta Project.

A Journey of Empowerment in Rio

In the heart of Rio’s communities, where every street tells a story of struggle and hope, Ricardo Pires stands as a symbol of hope who works tirelessly to find life-changing opportunities for the people in the communities he works with.

«For two decades, the Santa Marta Sports Centre has been pivotal in the Favela Santa Marta, shaping athletes for the professional world of MMA, from children to adults, ensuring a vital continuity in our mission,» Pires shares. «Our unwavering dedication is reflected in our extensive operating hours, from Monday to Friday, from 6 AM to 10 PM, offering a wide range of free activities, from Boxing, Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu classes to academic tutoring and technical courses.»

His life’s work is a heartfelt mission that goes beyond the realm of MMA, to uplift and empower the souls of those from less privileged backgrounds. Through the Santa Marta Centre and his involvement with many other communities, Ricardo is crafting leaders and sowing seeds of resilience and hope.

With every young fighter he mentors, Ricardo lights a fire of ambition, teaching them that their dreams are valid, and their futures can be bright. His dedication to their growth shows both on and off the mats, mentoring countless pupils from multiple communities, where every individual is nurtured to become their best self.

Laying the Groundwork with Centurion FC

From our very first event in Brazil, Centurion FC immediately partnered up with Pires to form a beautiful alliance with a common goal; a shared commitment to make a real difference in the communities of Rio. Our collaboration with the Santa Marta Project kicked off at CFC12, turning a new page with the donation of MMA gear to the project’s heart: the Santa Marta Centre.

Reflecting on the donation of MMA gear, Pires recalls, «We aim not just to create MMA champions but to forge Champions for Life, teaching them that dignity and achieving dreams are attainable.»

The donations were delivered directly by the Centurion FC team, accompanied by the local hero Isaac Dull, and Cornelius Lascar, the rising star and training partner of McGregor from SBG Ireland, who also voluntarily gave their time to roll and interact with the kids.

These memorable moments of connection created seeds of inspiration that were planted in young, eager hearts.

CFC17: The Mission Continues

The spirit of collaboration flourished again at CFC17. Although Ricardo Pires’ son, Rafael de Souza, was initially slated to fight, an unfortunate injury led to his withdrawal. The determined Pires leveraged his extensive network to secure a worthy replacement. Thanks to his connections and hard work in various communities, he managed to find us João Silva - Team Dutra, from the community of Ilha Do Governador.

A Tale of Triumph: Kellyson Souza’s Journey

One standout story is that of Kellyson Souza, a promising athlete under Pires’s guidance. Through the Santa Marta Project, Kellyson transitioned from a local talent to a professional MMA fighter, showcasing his skills on the international platform of Centurion FC. His journey shows the profound impact of Pires’s mentorship, illustrating how targeted support and opportunity can transform lives.

Kellyson’s success story is only one of many testaments to the effectiveness of the Santa Marta Project’s mission, serving as an inspiration to his peers and the community at large. A true story that personifies the beliefs of Pires himself:

“We firmly believe that a person without dreams is a frustrated one. Hence, we empower our students with tools and direction to escape local violence and pursue a better future."

Visions of Tomorrow

Ricardo Pires’s relentless spirit continues to forge paths of hope and triumph in the communities he touches. His vision and action resonate far and wide, crafting a legacy of change through the power of sport and community. In his eyes, every student is more than a fighter; they’re warriors of life, equipped to conquer any challenge with strength, courage, and heart.

«By highlighting their importance, we help transform their dreams into reality. This not only increases the visibility and recognition of the project within the community but also inspires other individuals with similar stories, creating a positive local impact and motivating children and adolescents to pursue their own dreams with determination.»

The story of Ricardo Pires and the Santa Marta Project is an inspiring narrative and living proof of the profound impact one person’s dedication can have on countless lives. Through the art of MMA, Ricardo crafts champions in the ring and champions in life, inspiring all to dream fearlessly and fight relentlessly for their futures.

Bridging Dreams with Centurion FC

The alliance between Ricardo Pires and Centurion FC stands as a cornerstone of transformation and opportunity.

Sharing this common goal with us, Pires reflects on this collaboration «By participating in marquee events like Centurion FC, we see the transformative impact this has on our athletes’ lives. Witnessing structures and opportunities beyond their local realities, these young people find inspiration to continue fighting for their dreams.»

Together, we’re connecting the dots between Rio’s vibrant communities and the world of professional MMA while crafting a story of hope, resilience, and endless possibilities. Through this journey, Centurion FC and Ricardo Pires are shaping stars with bright futures, one fight at a time.