The greatest mixed martial artist of all time is set to put his UFC middleweight championship belt on the line Saturday night (10 p.m. ET, PPV), so naturally the talk out in Las Vegas has centered on … boxing.
It’s hard to imagine when watching Anderson Silva do the things he does that he’s a 38-year-old fighter with nearly 40 professional fights to his record. While Silva’s age never seems to define him as he continues to reign over the UFC’s middleweight division with an iron fist, there’s no denying that eventually it will all come to an end. Every fighter, no matter how great, eventually has to walk away from the sport. In Silva’s case, despite the fact that he just recently signed a new long-term deal with the UFC, he has fewer years in front of him than behind, and talk of retirement will have to happen at some point.
Anderson Silva was born April 14, 1975, a middle child of four. The son of a poverty stricken family, Silva spent the majority of his childhood with his aunt and uncle, an officer with the Curitiba police force.
Silva first began training Jiu Jitsu with neighborhood kids who could afford lessons. He explained his introduction to martial arts in an interview with FIGHT! Magazine: “When I started out, Jiu-Jitsu was really an elite thing in Brazil, and there was some prejudice towards poorer kids, so I had to learn things on my own… Some of my neighbors started doing Jiu-Jitsu, so I started watching it, and then started rolling with them. It wasn’t organized training, but it was better than nothing.” By the age of twelve his family was able to set aside enough money to start him in Tae Kwon Do lessons, from which he moved on to Capoeira, before finally settling on Muay Thai at the age of sixteen.
Before he began his career as a professional fighter, Silva worked at McDonalds, and also as a file clerk. He also considers Spider-Man a personal hero, and has a stated love of comic books and comic book heroes.