No Gi World Champ Tammi Musumeci: ‘Depression Won’t Stand in My Way’

No Gi World Champ Tammi Musumeci: ‘Depression Won’t Stand in My Way’


Depression is a mental health disorder that interferes with the physical and psychological well-being of an individual. Athletes are at risk for depression–high pressure sporting events, personal and team expectations and individual disposition may increase bouts of depression in susceptible athletes.

Depression and Jiu-Jitsu Athletes
One in ten Americans experience depression, according to the National Institute of Health. Genetics and external stresses are common causes of depression. Regardless of how physically fit an athlete is, genetics or chemical imbalances may influence the development of depression. Individual and personal sports create a high pressure environment that focuses on winning and achieving progress.

10 years ago, Sebastian Spirra a French BJJ black belt and competitor committed suicide after years of suffering from depression.

Last weekend at the IBJJF No Gi World Championships, Tammi Musumeci beat Mackenzie Dern in the final of the featherweight division. Her performance was one of the highlights of the tournament.

Tammi spoke with Flograppling and revealed that competing in Jiu-Jitsu helps here overcome the biggest struggle in her life: depression:


Tammi held a sign at the podium to show her support for athletes that suffer from depression.


I have learned a lot and as I spoke to people on and off the mats, it became evident that a lot of people who train jiu-jitsu struggle with depression, although they may not outwardly show symptoms or talk about it. I realized how important it is to get help and not suffer.

Awareness of depression and other mental illnesses is extremely important because so many people are struggling with this internal pain and will continue to drown without the proper help. I was asked to hold up a sign on the podium, this past weekend for a friend who is trying to gain awareness of depression and “submit the stigma” of it (#submitthestigma).

I was encouraged to share my experience so that others who are experiencing the same thing will realize that they could get help. I think people feel that those who succeed are “perfect” and things seem to go easy for them. This may be true for some, but not true for me at all.

Depression is the invisible disability, so no one sees that you have it, therefore, there is no mercy. I struggled my whole life and always felt so alone even with so many people around me. I had to work extra hard to get good grades and put so much pressure on myself that sometimes I felt I would explode. I had to remain focused at all times not to lose my path.


I will continue to compete and know I will not always win the match however; I refuse to ever let depression stand in my way of being the best I could be.

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