Reading’s Team Pereira Mixed Martial Arts Academy, an outlet for champions | Amateur sports
There is still a lot of gold to be made on the third floor of a building on Moss Street that once housed one of Reading town center’s famous factory outlets.
Decades after shoppers have bustled the stairs of the former chocolate factory at 1414 Moss Street, fighters are honing their skills at Team Pereira Mixed Martial Arts Academy.
The ringing cash registers have been replaced by the sounds of athletes practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing and several self-defense disciplines. Merchandise that hung on the walls was replaced with trophies and photos of the many athletes who won national and world championships as they trained under the guidance of Professor Robson Pereira.
“We are doing pretty well as a team,” said Pereira. “We have the most students, the most quality, the most fighters and the most champions.”
At last count, Pereira said he had 200 fighters among his 879 students aged 5 to 63. He said 125 championships won last year and are now on the champions wall.
Team Pereira is off to a good start to the 2021 season. Five of the team’s fighters won championships last month at the North American Grappling Association World Championships in New Jersey.
Efrain Garcia won three gold medals and two expert title belts; Celeste Mirenda won two gold medals; David Burns won the absolute title belt; and Scott Gerwig and Elia Harris each won a gold medal.
Team Pereira will be back in action this weekend in Allentown for the Fuji Spring Championships.
“We compete pretty much every month,” Pereira said.
Pereira, originally from Brazil, moved to the United States in 1996 at the age of 18. A fighter himself, Pereira attempted to operate schools in several locations, including the former Fairgrounds Square Mall and the Sinking Spring building that now houses the Tractor Supply Company.
But he said it all started to fall into place when he moved into the premises on Moss Street more than three years ago.
“Reading has a lot of hungry kids to fight,” Pereira said. “The city has a lot of potential. Every great city has potential if you invest in the right way.”