The Brazilian city of Curitiba is a powerhouse in the martial arts world, producing a conveyor belt of top-tier fighting talent in the same way that cities like New York and Los Angeles send basketball players to the NBA.
Few cities in the world have produced as many champion fighters, per head of population, than this southern Brazilian metropolis: Rafael Cordeiro, Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, Jose-Pele Landi Jons, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and his brother Murilo Rua are just a few, and they all came from the famous Chute Boxe team which put Curitiba on the martial arts map in the early 2000s.
Jady Menezes is from Curitiba herself and looks up to all the Chute Boxe fighters of the past, but two in particular are important to her: Julio Borges, her coach, and Cris 'Cyborg' Venancio.
“Curitiba always had good athletes, so many of them were an inspiration to me. But the one who stands out the most for me is Cris Cyborg. She inspired me to be a professional fighter myself. I look up to her because she came from my city to conquer the world and showed that anything is possible,” she says.
“I started training at the age of 14 because I was kind of an energetic teenager. I just decided one day to go and take a kickboxing class and see what it was all about. But my career didn't really start until I met Julio Borges.”
Borges – no relation to the aforementioned Nelio Borges – is himself a former Chute Boxe fighter. Now in his 40s, he is a compact, quiet man, but one whose modest demeanor hides considerable achievements. As well as being a training partner of Wanderlei, Anderson and the Rua brothers, he was also a trailblazer himself, being the first Brazilian to fight in the famed Lumpini Stadium in Thailand.
Initially a Muay Thai fighter – hence his sojourns to Thailand – Borges also became interested in the Dutch spin-off of the art. In the 1990s a young Dutch fighter by the name of Ramon Dekkers became a sensation in Thailand and it was here that Borges crossed paths with him.
Their meeting led to Borges traveling to Holland to train with Dekkers' stepfather and trainer, Cor Hemmers. The towering Hemmers is one of the most successful coaches in the history of fight sports, having coached Alistair Overeem, Stefan Leko, Gokhan Saki as well as Dekkers. These days he is the head matchmaker at GLORY and Borges' gym in Brazil is named after him.
The Borges style is the Hemmers style is the Chute Boxe style: constant forward pressure, heavy hands, non-stop low kicks. Attack, attack, attack. That's something which has been drummed into Menezes as well.
“In all my career I have always made great fights for the fans. I am always looking to give a show for the spectators. I want to give them something spectacular for their money and attention,” she says.
“I am really happy to have joined GLORY. I have never felt more ready to fight at this level. I feel like this is my time now, my time has come."