When I was little, I lived in a bad neighborhood in Argentina. I’m from Buenos Aires, and my neighborhood has a lot of dangerous people because of all of the gangs. Every time I was in the car and driving somewhere, every wall on the street was covered with graffiti. My dad didn’t let me leave the house because the streets were dangerous, so I usually didn’t go out. I only went out if my friends and I agreed to go somewhere specific. I hung out with a group of friends that were a bit dangerous and scary. My group of friends usually protected each other, and we always had each other’s back when crazy stuff happened. In the group, I was usually the tiny one because all of my friends look way bigger than me. One day there was a big tournament of jiu jitsu. The tournament was so big I decided to invite my friends to join me. My friends didn’t know a lot of jiu jitsu, so I explained to them the rules and how you win. The tournament started, and I made it all the way to the semifinals. My bracket had some strong looking people and I managed to get through all of them. I got called up for my next match, and I got to compete against someone who looked like he had no skill and was not strong. My friends saw him, and before I went out they told me I better not lose to someone like him. During the match I dominated most of the time, until the second round came up and I got slammed a couple of times. The third period came up, and I looked over at my friends, and they looked disappointed, I tapped out and lost the match. The next day came, and I went to school. My friends started making fun of me, saying I wasn’t strong. I figured I had lost their respect. After that experience, days went by, and my parents told me that we were moving to the United States. I felt sad, and the next day, I told my friends. We gave each other a good group hug, and I realized I hadn’t lost them as friends. We arrived in the U.S., and a month passed by, and I was already in a jiu jitsu club for teens. I didn’t have many friends because of my English, but I met friends from the club who also spoke Spanish. Another week passed, and it was time for a tournament. I didn’t invite any- body. It was just the team and my parents. Once I arrived, the place looked almost the same as the tournament In Argentina, except it was more modern. The tournament began, and I had a good start and made it to the finals. From my team, I was the only one who made it to the finals. I sent a picture to my old friends in Argentina and they were impressed. My match began, and my opponent didn’t look strong, but he had skills, so I respect that. After two periods, I thought about the day that I lost and used that as motivation. The match began and I did my best and made him tap out...I won! I went to shake my opponent’s hand and he congratulated me and told me I would become a great wrestler. I got my belt, took a picture, and sent it to my friends back home. They said a lot of good things, and told me how when I come back, they would not make fun of me, that they’d respect me from now on. From all that I have been through, I have learned that life can get tough, but you need to keep trying.
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