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Andre Galvao is the leader of one of the most successful BJJ organizations in the world, Atos. He is also an accomplished competitor himself winning ADCC World Championship multiple times as well as the IBJJF World Championship. Though he says that he is currently retired from competing, many are still wondering if he is going to come out for the next ADCC and face Gordon Ryan.
Galvao retired at the age of 35. Compared to Gui and Rafa Mendes who both retired in their 20s, Galvao was a competitor for the last 13 years.
Andre Galvao was born on September 29, 1982, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is known for his nickname “Deco”. Andre Galvao started his martial arts journey by learning judo. He trained under Calasans Camargo, who is the father of Claudio Calasans who is also an ADCC champion.
Andre Galvao started doing BJJ due to his brother’s influence who is already doing jiujitsu that time. Luis Carlos Dagmar who is also known as “Careca”, was Andre Galvao’s first coach. Careca was a former student of Osvaldo Alvez who noticed Andre Galvao’s talent and athletic ability. Osvaldo Alvez suggested that Andre Galvao train with Fernando Terere. Andre Galvao was only 16 when Dagmar decided that it is best for Andre Galvao to receive his training with one of the best competitors.
Training Under Terere
Once training under Terere, Galvao’s progress skyrocketed. Fernando Terere during that time was one of the sport’s best competitors. Terere was already a world champion and was in the pound for pound list of different JiuJitsu media in the early 2000s. Shortly after TT split, Galvao followed Terere and joined Alliance. As a purple belt, Andre Galvao was undefeated for three years. He was also the first purple belt to win the IBJJF “Grand Slam” winning all the major tournaments including the Brazilian Nationals, Pan American Championship, and the World Championship.
Shortly after, Andre Galvao received his brown belt from Terere. The only loss that Andre Galvao incurred as a brown belt was against Ricardo Abreu in the absolute division in Copa do Brasil tournament.
By 2005, Andre Galvao became a black belt. Unfortunately, Terere wasn’t available to give Galvao his black belt. Terere’s partner in TT, Eduardo Telles mentioned that Galvao should rather go back to his roots and get his black belt from Dagmar.
When Terere left the sport due to personal problems, Andre Galvao then joined Brasa. During the early black belt years of Andre Galvao, he is known to go after different tournaments both big and small. HE won 4 world championships from blue belt to black belt. He also won both the division and the absolute two years in a row from purple to brown belt. In 2008, he won the world championship again when he beat Braulio Estima in the finals.
Andre Galvao took a long break from the BJJ competition scene after winning the 2008 Worlds. He did this to explore the world of MMA. He fought under Dream in Japan and Strikeforce in the US. By 2010, he left Strikeforce with plans of joining the UFC Ultimate Fighter TV show. However, this didn’t pan out as planned.
He returned competing in BJJ in 2010 and won the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials in San Diego. He also won the Pan American Championship that same year. He was able to submit the majority of his opponents except for Eduardo Santoro during the finals. He will later win the world championship again in 2014, 2016, and 2017.
As the 2014 European Champion, Fernando Tererê continues his European tour, on Monday the popular black belt met his friend and former student, André Galvão, while in Barcelona, Spain.
Galvão, posted a picture next to his master and posted the image on his Instagram account.
Galvao and Terere’s story runs deep. Galvao initially started training Jiu-Jitsu under Master Careca. But as Galvao started to outgrow his academy, he eventually moved to train under the legendary Fernando Tererê under the advice of his previous instructor. But Andre actually received his black belt from Carca, as Terere was involved in his unfortunate circumstances
As a loyal student, Galvao followed Terere wherever he went. When Terere moved from from Alliance to Brasa, and then eventually to TT team, Galvao followed suit, but when Terere was forced to leave the sport, Andre left TT and rejoined Brasa. Later he started a new team together with Ramon Lemos. This became the famous Atos team, home to top competitors, such as Keenan Cornelius and the Miyao and Mendes Brothers.
In an interview back in 2006 with On The Mat, Galvao said he was still a member of TT (Terere’s old academy), Galvao had this to say about his master.
“After two years training with my intial master Careca I moved to train with Terere in Sao Paulo. Terere taught me his style and I think I developed it very-well. I have a lot to tell you about Terere, but I will resume this, telling you that Terere supported me a lot in all aspects. I do not have gratitude to him just why he trained me, but because he helped and he an example of correct people. I think that my style is not 100% based on his, but nearly all based on it. Terere has a style which looks for the submission all time. I fight to submit my opponents, so I followed his style, but I added my own tools to conquer my place at jiu jitsu.”
Building Atos in San Diego
In 2010, he moved to San Diego and started his gym alongside his wife, Angelica Galvao. Though he is actively teaching in a gym, he was able to win the 2011 ADCC both in the division and the absolute.
Atos had its share of ups and downs. Andre Galvao is responsible for building big names in today’s competition scene such as Luiza Monteiro, Gustavo Batista, Lucas Barbosa, and Keenan Cornelius.
There were years when Atos won the prestigious team title for both adult male and adult female category. However, this year was quite rocky for Atos as an association. In April last year, Keenan decided to leave Atos. After six years of working with Atos and Andre Galvao, Keenan Cornelius decided to build Legion bringing another Andris Brunovskis with him.
Also, there was AOJ composed of both Gui and Rafa Mendes quitting the Atos Association. Before the 2020 IBJJF European Open, the Mendes Brothers announced that they are no longer representing Atos, but rather representing AOJ as a separate team.
Though brand wise, Atos HQ and AOJ are two separate branches with minimal training interactions, the presence of playing under one banner contributed to Atos’ success in the past years especially against big teams such as Alliance.
From 2010 to 2011, Andre Galvao worked with Gui and Rafa Mendes along with Ramon Lemos. Together, they were able to bring Atos from a small gym in Rio Claro to become one of the most successful competition teams in jiu jitsu.
Andre Galvao is a four-time ADCC superfight winner. He won his ADCC superfights in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. During his superfights, he was able to face the likes of Braulio Estima, Cyborg Abreu, Claudio Calasans, and Felipe Pena.
In Galvao’s last ADCC appearance, he faced Felipe Pena and won against the Gracie Barra standout by 2-0. Before doing the ADCC superfight in 2019, Andre Galvao already mentioned in 2018 that he is planning to retire from competition.
He mentioned that “I think this chapter of my life is over. It’s sad, but happy at the same time. Sad because I will need to stop doing what I love most”. He also added that “I have nothing to prove to anyone anymore. It’s hard for an athlete to announce he needs to stop, you’re done, it’s over”.
On record, Andre Galvao was awarded the 2014 World Championship. Felipe Pena tested positive for PEDs and the IBJJF awarded the title to Galvao.