“I think the greatest lesson jiu-jitsu has taught me is flexibility,” says 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) gold medalist Dean Roxas. “Just like in life, you’ll not always be in a favorable or ideal situation. At the end of the day, you just have to face things head-on, and make sure you’re prepared to face all the consequences, the results of your actions and decisions.” This lesson perfectly fits the combat sport whose name is rooted in  the word “flexible.”

All his life, flexibility tested Dean even before getting into the sport and winning gold. “I got into jiu-jitsu because of the people I knew doing it,” says the 29-year-old athlete. “I just couldn’t do it then because I did track and field in high school. That was the one thing that barred me from pursuing the sport. I tried jiu-jitsu once and I got injured, so my coach in track and field almost killed me because of it. After I retired from track and field, that’s when I started jiu-jitsu.”

Gold medals don’t just fall from the sky. For his SEA Games journey, Dean looked into every detail of his practice and preparation. “Being in the Games is pressuring, for sure,” he said. “However, the best part of it is the energy of everyone around when you’re about to step on the mats. The host was our country last year, so what better way to represent the sport than to defend home ground.”

Swim shorts and waist pack both from H&M

Dedicating his champion finish to the jiu-jitsu community, Dean encourages aspiring athletes, especially the youth, to focus on their dreams. “I know it’s going to sound cliché, but always give your 110 percent for your dreams,” he says. “One day, you’ll never know when your big break will come, or that promotion, or your chance to win that gold medal. This applies not just in sports, but in other aspects of life too. Keep pursuing and persevering. Be patient and humble.”
A lot are in store for the 85 kg. National Athlete. On March 28, Dean is set to compete at Saudi Arabia for the Asian Championships. After that, he’ll be heading to Abu Dhabi for the World Professional Jiu-jitsu Championship, followed by the World Championships at Long Beach, California.

Speaking of the sunny state, for Dean, having a perfect time in the sun is with his friends, on a beach, lying on a blanket, munching on his self-prepared meal. “Don’t want to skip my meal plan. I mean, even if I enjoy, I still want to be responsible about it,” he says. “Whatever I put in my body, the output will be in my performance and appearance. I want to be sure that I maintain that and not go off track so much.”

 

Writer: John Legaspi
Photographer: Rxandy Capinpin
Art director: Angelo Manalo
Stylist: Poy Villamonte
Grooming: Team MVP
Videographer: Ayens Rivera and JanLo Inocentes
Shot on location: Manila Hotel, Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila
Contact number: (02) 8527 0011
Special thanks to Kim Tan