‘She Hated It’ – How Mikey Musumeci’s Mom Inadvertently Turned Her Son Into A BJJ World Champion

Mikey Musumeci Jarred Brooks ONE Fight Night 13 72

After a lifetime of training and competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there’s no doubt that ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion Mikey “Darth Rigatoni” Musumeci has found his calling in life. Surprisingly, his mother wasn’t always on board with her son’s martial arts journey.

The New Jersey native moves up to bantamweight to take on promotional newcomer Gabriel Sousa – the last man to defeat him – in an intriguing non-title submission grappling clash. The bout goes down live in U.S. primetime at ONE 167 on Prime Video on Friday, June 7, at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

Musumeci started BJJ at the tender age of 4 and spent practically his entire childhood training and competing, establishing himself as a true prodigy. However, early on in his competitive journey, his mother felt like she had seen enough.

The five-time IBJJF World Champion told ONEFC.com:

“My mom didn’t even want me to compete. I was like 13, 12 years old. She’s like, ‘Please, no more competing.’ She hated it, she was horrified of me competing.”

Like countless other BJJ parents, Musumeci’s mother struggled to watch her son defend himself against chokes, armbars, shoulder locks, and everything else that comes along with grappling competitions. So she struck a deal with young Mikey – just one more tournament, then he’s done.

But the phenom kept winning. Then he won some more. And when he earned a championship belt at the North American Grappling Association (NAGA), it became impossible to deny him from competing.

“Darth Rigatoni” recalled:

“She’s like, ‘Alright, just win one more tournament and then no more competing, please.’ I was gonna be competing at NAGA at this time, and I’m like, ‘Mom, I want another belt.’ I won another belt, so I fought again and then I’d win a belt.

“And then I’m like, ‘Wait, wait, one more tournament, please!’ And then I ended up just keeping competing.”

Perhaps paradoxically, Musumeci says that it was his mother’s aversion to him competing that solidified his passion for BJJ. Instead of being forced into the sport, he was given the choice to compete.

He explained:

“My parents never pushed me to compete or train. My mom just wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer, honestly. She didn’t even want me to do jiu-jitsu, so I feel like because they didn’t push us, it came from us to actually want to do this.”

Musumeci’s Advice To Cultivate A Passion For BJJ

Mikey Musumeci’s childhood experience can be a lesson for parents hoping to push their children into BJJ or any martial art.

The key, he says, is allowing children to develop their own passion, their own drive, to better themselves in BJJ:

“I think a lot of parents push their kids too much to do certain things, and then you’ll see the kid ends up quitting jiu-jitsu because they hate it. It has to come from inside. The parent has to do a good job in making the kid choose what passion they want and to stick with it. It has to come from the kid.”

In a clever bit of reverse psychology, Musumeci believes parents should make BJJ training a priority for themselves – a special activity reserved for adults. That way, he predicts, the child will be dying to join in on the fun.

He added:

“Don’t tell your kid they have to train. What you’re gonna do is you’re gonna go train, and you’re gonna have your kid sometimes go, but you’re gonna make it your cool thing, and then your kid’s gonna want to do it because it’s your cool thing, and he’s gonna want to do what you’re doing.”

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