Over the past 20 years, Flavio Canto has established himself as one of the preeminent Judoka competitors in the world. He medaled in three consecutive Pan American Games (1995, 1999, 2003), holding a total of 6 medals—including a bronze from the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
However, it’s his performance off the mat that is perhaps his most impressive accomplishment—and the reason he is widely considered a prime example of an athlete who blends competitive success with social work.
In 2003, Flavio founded a nongovernmental organization to promote human development and social inclusion through sport and education. Each year, more than 1,000 youth from Brazil’s most impoverished communities benefit from his program. He has also launched a promising career as a TV presenter, and will be a member of the team of former athletes who will participate in the Rio 2016 broadcast on GLOBO TV.
Judo is a relatively recent martial art, originating in the 19th century. Judo translates to “the gentle way,” which refers to the technique of subduing an attacker by redirecting the force of the attack. In modern Judo, opponents face off on a square mat measuring 8x8 meters. Each competitor attempts to immobilize, or throw, their opponent to the ground.
There are three types of scores awarded in Judo. First is ippon, or a full point. If this is awarded, the match is over. Competitors earn ippon by either throwing their opponent to the mat in such a way that the opponent lands on the flat of the back or by immobilizing the opponent for 25 seconds with a sustained hold. A waza-ari is a half point. Earning two waza-ari ends the match. Half points are awarded for lesser throws or immobilization techniques that do not last the full 25 seconds. The least valuable score is yuko, which is awarded for minor throws, holds and locks. One ippon or waza-ari score outweighs any number of yuko scores—and yuko scores are only used to decide a winner in the case that neither opponent earns an ippon or two waza-ari scores.
Competitors can also be given major and minor penalties, or shido, for stalling or prolonged periods of non-aggression. Four shidos results in disqualification.