The world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu witnessed another stellar performance from 23-year-old Norman Benjamin Saunders, fondly known as ‘Benjamin’ or ‘Norm’, as he seized two bronze medals at the renowned Jiu-Jitsu CON held from August 31st to September 2nd at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Representing the Turks and Caicos Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, Saunders' expertise was on full display in both the Gi and No Gi competitions of the Blue Belt Adult Middleweight Division. His resilience and skills led him to three victories in the Gi competition, all through submission. In the No Gi competition, he repeated his brilliance with three wins: one by submission, another by points, and one following his opponent's disqualification.
Notably, in both categories, Saunders’ sole defeat was dealt by a distinguished adversary, who occupies the 9th global rank in the Blue Belt Adult Middleweight Division, as recognized by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).
Following this remarkable showing, Saunders has advanced his position, now proudly standing at the 20th rank globally in the Blue Belt Adult Middleweight Division by the IBJJF.
Reflecting on his time in Las Vegas, Saunders conveyed, "I stepped into Jiu-Jitsu CON with the intention to improve my global ranking, and I'm proud to have achieved that. Although I was bested by an exceptional competitor, the entire experience was enlightening. My focus is now directed towards the Toronto International Open IBJFF Jiu-Jitsu Championship on September 16th. The strides I've made in this sport are a testament to Coach Alex Yablong, the academy, my dedicated teammates, and the unwavering support from my family and friends."
Saunders' journey continues to unfold, with September marking the commencement of his studies at the Liverpool Law School, University of Liverpool. This strategic move to Liverpool positions him advantageously closer to numerous elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions in Europe, offering Saunders invaluable experiences against the best in the sport, which he believes will be instrumental in his ascent in the global rankings.
His mentor, Coach Alex Yablong, remarked, " Witnessing Norm's unwavering dedication and subsequent growth in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu reaffirm the potential we've always seen in him. His recent triumphs prove that his success isn't coincidental but a product of sheer hard work and the right guidance. I'd like to take this moment to invite more individuals to be a part of our family at the Turks and Caicos Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy. Together, we can shape and celebrate many more success stories."
Lastly, Saunders emphasized the essentiality of sponsorships in elevating his game, stating "Every step I take in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu isn't just for me; it's for the Turks and Caicos Islands. By actively seeking sponsorships and brand partnerships, I aim to compete more frequently, further enhancing my skills and experience. My goal is to shine a spotlight on our nation, proving that our small islands can produce world-class talent. Together, we can elevate Turks and Caicos in the world of athletics.”