About Abraço Campeão

Founded by Alan Duarte, ABRAÇO CAMPEÃO (Embracing Champions) is a Brazilian NGO that combines boxing with alternative education to help young people make positive life decisions.

Alan has lost 10 close family members to gun violence. He doesn’t want to see that happen to anyone else.

With minimal support and working within a conflict zone, Alan and his team of volunteers have seen the project grow from 10 members to over 100. The team currently work 6 days a week to provide:

I used to be really rowdy, but now I’m a much better student. Without Abraço Campeão my life would be a whole lot worse. Alan is like a Dad to me.

Erick (Rocky JR)

The members of my boxing family gave me the encouragement to build a better life for me and my daughter. They were there for me when others weren’t and they made me believe in myself.

Tatiane

I used to smoke drugs in the street with the drug traffickers, but thanks to boxing I managed to get my life back on track. It’s not just anyone that would do for the community what Alan is doing here.

Mango

Alan’s neighbourhood, Complexo do Alemao (The German’s complex) began in the 1950s, when people began setting up informal houses to be close to a local leather factory. The neighbourhood grew quickly, and now comprises 15 different communities with 70,000 official residents (although true figures are likely much higher).

It is now one of Rio de Janeiro’s most deprived favelas. 40% of its residents live on less than half a minimum wage (US$128) a month, almost 1 in 10 households have four or more people per bedroom, and almost 1 in 12 people over the age of 15 is illiterate.

Because of its central location and difficult access, Complexo do Alemão has long been a key point for the drug wars that have affected Rio de Janeiro since the 1980s. It has seen decades of extreme violence.

When the government announced a plan to pacify Rio’s favelas in 2008, there was hope that the situation would improve. In 2010, amazing footage of drug dealers escaping Complexo do Alemao through the forests was broadcast nationwide, and people started to believe that real change was possible.

Sadly, Complexo do Alemao was the beginning of the end for the pacification police. They never truly got control of the sprawling favela, one of the biggest in Rio. In 2015, there were shootouts on 100 consecutive days in the favela and last year residents reported 259 shootouts in the area, with some of them lasting many hours.

The rate of police killings in Complexo do Alemao is higher than the murder rate for most ENTIRE countries. By any measurement or definition, the area is a war zone.

Whether involved directly in the armed conflict or not this is a situation that affects all the residents, old and young. Their lives are affected and restricted in multiple ways and they run the risk of injury or death every day, even when taking refuge in their own homes.

Perhaps even more important than this however, is that young people in the community are starved of opportunities. That is why initiatives like Abraço Campeão can make such a huge difference.

With support from: