Gonzalo "Gremlin" Ponce
Born in '94, I was one of few children born with Congenital Hypothyroidism. Thankfully it was spotted early on and helped me avoid complications. I grew up in Janesville, Wi but moved all over the state. I now reside in Baraboo, Wi where I have been for the last 6 years. Jiu Jitsu is the sole reason I called this place home. Jiu Jitsu gave me a level head and a purpose. Now I spend nearly every waking moment in the gym, whether teaching, training, or just keeping it maintained. I couldn't imagine life doing anything else.
Q&A Session Between Gonzalo Ponce and Elite Sports
Question: What inspires you about BJJ?
Answer: Jiu Jitsu allows for anyone to succeed. Anyone with a desire to rise above themselves can do Jiu Jitsu. Unlike most sports, Jiu Jitsu is a lifestyle that gives back everything you give to it. People of all backgrounds can achieve great heights. Nobody believed I would have gotten as far as I have. But Jiu Jitsu gave me tools to thrive. I have seen people with disabilities come and surpass the 'athlete' through sheer determination to better themselves. Jiu Jitsu gives children the ability to grow in ways that seem impossible through guidence of coaches and that is incredible to me.
Question: Who inspires you, and why?
Answer: Honestly, my coach, Filipe Barbosa, inspires me. He has always been there for me. No matter how much I seem to struggle he pushes me to be my best. He never lets me make exuses as to why I can't do something. For example, my last fight was against an All-American D3 wrestler, many of which said I wouldn't take him down having not been a wrestler myself, but I did in Round 1. A single leg saw me showing others I could, especially after my Instructor said I could. Though he is a very tough love kind of teacher, I wouldn't want any other person to guide me towards greatness. I am very hard of learning, and he has yet to give up on me over the years.
Question: What are your goals for this year? Next 3 years? Next 5 years?
Answer: By the end of this year I intend winning a few more tournaments. Having my morning class grow by double its current size. It is still relatively new so I don't see why it can't happen. In the next 3 years I plan to have achieved my brown belt. I have been teased with the idea of it for this year, however, I feel I have some more growing to do before that can happen. In 5 years I intend on having my Black Belt, My own school, and a World Championship secured and a few students being well known accross the Jiu Jitsu community.
Question: How long have you been training?
Answer: I have been training for 5 years.
Question: How often do you train?
Answer: I am in the gym 3 times a day and 5-6 times a week. It's a running joke that I live there. My home is actually 3 blocks away so I can be there more if I can.
Question: Any Major accomplishments you've been able to achieve in that time?
Answer: As an Amatuer MMA fighter I captured to WXCF flyweight title. Then earlier this year as a pro, I challenged the KOTC champion in a bout stopped between rounds seeing myself lose to a cut. I have 8 submission wins in my overall career. I have many students from kids to adults that have won countless gold medals at tournaments in Wisconsin and Illinois. I have cornered many fighters to victory in their mma bouts.
Question: Do you have a go to finishing move?
Answer: My favorite go to submission is the GoGo choke. I was a part of the LCCT where I learned this technique. Now everyone expects it and from every angle and situation.
Question: What do you think it takes to be a champion in your sport?
Answer: Dedication. To drive forward even when everything seems like it is falling a part. Every great champion struggled on their path to greatness. Yet they presevered through the hardship. Even when doubt creeps, pushing forward always yielded rewards. To dedicate yourself requires bearing your soul to all. You can't hide how much you want to be a champion. You either put up the work no matter what or you become forgotten. There was a time when I was sent home from the army after a medical release and I didn't have a car. I was a fresh blue belt who lived a town away from the gym. I ran 10 miles every day to make it to training. Sometimes I even walked back that 10 miles afterwards. Seems crazy, but I did it to prove to myself that I wanted it that bad. Rain, Snow or shine, I was on the road.
Question: What sort of gear do you usually keep in your gym bag before hitting the gym?
Answer: I have a storage space at the gym for all my things. But in the event that I visit another gym, I always have a couple Gis in my car and Defense foam for after the training to avoid ringworm, staph, and other bacteria.