BRAZILIAN-born Rodrigo Boroski came to Ireland in 2014 with an engineering degree and black belts in judo and jiu-jitsu.
He first found work as a kitchen porter before deciding to teach the sport he loves.
“I started when I was four years old, and the love I feel on being on the mat is what forces me every day to be someone better. I thought that jiu-jitsu would help me more financially and I began teaching in a very small space in the studio of Clarion Hotel,” Rodrigo explained.
The Brazilian born jiu-jitsu master has fought and defeated cancer three times and has also trained with some of UFC’s top stars, including Anderson Silva and Cris Cyborg.
There are four nearby Irish Martial Arts Schools under Rodrigo’s supervision. “Jiu-Jitsu in my life is what strengthens me,” said Rodrigo. “It helped me mentally during the cancer fight.” Rodrigo was first diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer at the age of 14.
After four years of battling cancer in Texas, it went into remission. However, it returned when Rodrigo was 29.
He turned to leading oncologist Dr Paulo Hoff for help.
“At the time the treatment with stem cells was experimental with a very low chance of working,” he explained.
Following an unsuccessful first treatment, Rodrigo was at a dangerously low weight and in need of help.
“We tried again and after 18 months, it worked,” he said.
“When I went into remission again I decided to change my life completely and chose to live in Ireland.
“However, after three and a half years in remission, my cancer returned as grade two Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the mildest cancer I have ever had,” he revealed. “I started my treatment here in Ireland and ended up in Brazil for surgery.”
During surgery, Rodrigo suffered a pulmonary embolism and was clinically dead for around five minutes.
“I came back from the dead,” he laughed.
Rodrigo has established his jiu-jitsu club as a top training facility.
Its members have competed for and won honours across the globe, with the help of fellow trainer Irisney Lima.
While the club is looking forward to competing in Lisbon at the end of January, Rodrigo revealed to the Evening Echo that he has his own personal challenge to face after falling ill once again.
He explained that the odds may not be in his favour but he is a fighter and has not given up hope yet.
“I developed a disease called big heart syndrome when my heart started to grow and I’ve been told it will stop working within two years or so,” said Rodrigo.
“I can’t enter the transplant queue because the system does not accept a cancer remission patient and my cancer has been in remission for just over a year.”
Rodrigo will return to Brazil in February in the hope of successful treatment.
He said that, throughout all of his illnesses, he never stopped training or believing.
“I never stopped teaching, I was vomiting because of chemotherapy and I was teaching.
“I promised Irisney that he would be World and European champion and I kept this promise,” he added.
“I promised Irisney that before I die he will be a black belt and when I die the responsibility of taking care of our team, our jiu-jitsu family, will be his.”
Despite his struggles, Rodrigo said he is not letting himself get down.
“I’m a happy person, I do not complain about anything.
“I never miss training, only when I have to go to the hospital.
“I feel pain every day, but thanks to God for the pains, because the day I do not feel more pain I’ll be dead,” he laughed.
“The pain is temporary but the glory is forever,” said Rodrigo, citing his favourite phrase.
His faith and love for his sport and the people around him have kept him alive for this long, he explained, and he hopes it will continue to do so.