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How Flávio Canto is changing lives through judo

IOC/Antonio Escorel
30 Jan 2018
Olympism in Action Forum
Olympian Flávio Canto competed in judo for Brazil before returning home to found the Instituto Reação, which helps the youth of Brazil develop their skills through sport and education.


In the run-up to the Olympism in Action Forum in Buenos Aires (5-6 October 2018), we looked at groups and individuals who, inspired by the power of sport to contribute to a better world, have used their initiative to organise projects and programmes to effect change at all levels.

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“When I was a young kid, I wanted to be a superhero. When I realised I wasn’t a superhero, I saw a guy win an Olympic gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics. And I realised that if I couldn’t fly, I could try to do those kinds of things – and be an Olympic hero.”

“When I came back from the Olympics in Sydney, I began volunteering in Rocinha teaching judo. I realised pretty soon that we had a very strong tool on our hands.”

“We have big programmes at the Instituto Reação. The Olympic Programme is the one that developed, for instance, Rafaela Silva, the first female world champion in Brazil. She’s amazing [and won gold in Rio]. We have the educational programme; after judo class, the kids go to one of the classrooms and they study with one of our teachers. And we have the judo school and martial arts.”

IOC/Antonio Escorel

“We have a sign that says ‘Man is the size of his dreams’, so we try to teach them and tell them that they can dream higher than they thought they could. They can go to school, they can have a university degree and this is what we try to do with them every day.”

“I learn much more than I teach. My best personal results came after [joining] Reação. I had a reason to fight. I learned so much with sports. I learned how to lose, how to come back. I became a better man.”

“When they put their uniforms on, the judo gear, they become like superheroes. They can do anything. I really believe that everything they learn here they take back home. So they are braver, they are better; they are ready to face the world. I don’t know any better tool than sport to build stronger people, ready to fight for whatever they need to fight for.”

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