Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Abreu Promises Changes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

In an interview with The New York Times, Chaouat said she was asleep in the Marrua Hotel when she awakened to find another fighter on top of her. According to the police report, read to The Times, Paulo Félix Figueiró, then 37, was arrested and charged with attempted rape. Hotel security footage showed Figueiró entering Chaouat’s room, but he denied assaulting her, the police said. When reached by The Times, Figueiró said he knew nothing about Fight Sports.

According to Chaouat, Abreu told her that because her attacker had not penetrated her “it was no big deal.”

Abreu and Chaouat’s coach at the time, who operated the Fight Sports franchise in Casablanca, pressured her to drop the charges, Chaouat said, and feeling isolated in Brazil and fearing for her safety, she complied. Chaouat called Abreu “the biggest coward,” one who protects accused fighters who “attack without fear.”

A former member of the Fight Sports team who participated in the camp confirmed in an interview that Chaouat recounted the incident, and Abreu’s reaction, to him at the time. The witness asked not to be identified in this article. After a statement he made to Jassim was published in August, the witness said, Abreu’s father and two black belt jiu-jitsu fighters visited his mother’s home in Brazil in an apparent attempt to silence him, warning that he should “stay out of it.”

Abreu said he “made no such statements” to Chaouat dismissing the attack and did not pressure her to drop the charges against Figueiró. Instead, Abreu said, he ordered Figueiró to leave the camp. “I respect all women and I do not condone sexual misconduct, and that is why the person involved in her incident was expelled from the team,” Abreu said.

Abreu’s father, also named Roberto, visited the witness’s mother’s house, Abreu said, to tell the witness to stop spreading “false information about Fight Sports and myself.”

In Abreu’s words, jiu-jitsu’s values, as taught by him, transform lives “by helping my students develop self-confidence through discipline, respect, teamwork and integrity.” But it is also a sport whose black belt instructors are regularly addressed as master and professor, and according to Jassim, are viewed “almost like demigods.” Jiu-jitsu’s close-quarters training also erases the physical boundary between instructor and student.

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