Torrential rain and mudslides in Brazil left the area reeling recently, causing the mixed martial arts community to mobilize in support of a country that gave birth to the sport of MMA as we know it. So many fighters have friends and family from the areas hardest hit that a charity Web-site (combatathletecharities.com) was set up to help provide relief.
Mudslides devastated entire communities after a month's worth of rain fell in one day across some heavily populated areas. Witnesses report bodies buried so deeply under the dirt and mud that they may never be found. Landslides were also to blame for the deaths of those who came to rescue others trapped in prior landslides.
MMA Manager Alex Davis, a native of Nova Friburgo, Brazil, is on the ground in the region and warns that the tragedy is far from over and will get worse over time:
"Besides this, many people of all walks of life have been economically wiped out, whole businesses have disappeared under the mud. This will bring even more stress as time passes due to the loss of jobs and economic activity. We will now face the second phase of the disaster, as the hundreds if not thousands of people buried will start putrefying, although they are too deep to be reached, the gases and fluids will seep through, bringing illness and stench."
Brazilian fighters have always been an integral fixture in mixed martial arts, including the legendary Gracie family, who gave life to the UFC. Though relief efforts have been hampered by more rain and fatality reports are slow to develop, news reports confirmed that the disaster claimed the life of the mother of famed grappler Pablo Popovitch. Other fighters may have also lost friends and family. It's simply too early to tell how hard the Brazilian MMA community will be hit.
Seeing the damage firsthand, Davis explains how truly sad the situation really is:
"At this point in time, the world cannot see how much suffering is still in the future of these Brazilian cities and communities. Roads and bridges have all been wiped out, leaving thousands of people isolated with no water, no food, no electricity. Big parts of the region are completely isolated. It simply isn’t possible to dig out all the bodies buried in the mud, and the stench and illnesses will start affecting the population in the next few days. In my hometown of Nova Friburgo, there are three hospitals that serve the city, the surrounding smaller cities and the rural areas, but one has also been brought down by landslides, putting another piece of suffering in the way of the population. I could go on and on about the dramatic stories of loss of lives, as well as the heroism of the rescue workers as the population tries to deal with the calamity that has come on top of them. Rich and poor, cops and robbers, everybody is working together trying to cope with what has happened. It’s a disaster worse than any of us could have fathomed in our worst dreams. Please keep these people in your minds. Please help in whatever way may be within your means. There are thousands and thousands of people in a really, really bad situation.”
MMA Manager Joe Mullings told MMAjunkie.com that American Top Team head Dan Lambert has already made a substantial contribution, as has corporate sponsor Muscle Warfare, but more help is needed. Relief funds can currently be donated through Paypal HERE. Non-Profit paperwork is in the works, and Bank of America is also reportedly working to assist with relief funds and provide a way for people to send donations by cell phone.