Do you know the legend of Boris… One of John Danaher‘s first black belts?
Not much is known about Boris, except from the fact that he trained with Danaher for some time and that he was an extremely talented grappler.
Danaher spoke about him in brief terms in one of the Lex Fridman podcast episodes:
Boris came from Long Island, he was a wrestler. He was of Russian-Jewish descent. Highly intelligent, of shorter stature, but very powerfully built and compact. Very nice, polite young man… But also slightly eccentric, which I always liked about him.
He would always come dressed with the glasses on and he would leave the gym dressed like a “complete nerd”. Now, he was heavily muscled, but he would dress in such a way that it didn’t appear so when he left.
Boris was a formidable opponent for everyone, even for Georges St-Pierre:
A very young Georges St-Pierre came to train with us at that time and he would come at 6AM, for his morning class. And he was one of the main training partners for Boris.
Boris, being a wrestler, used to generally prefer top position – and I would always encourage Georges to play bottom position… And Boris had very strong guard passing.
And I remember, one of Georges’ happiest days was when, after two years, he swept Boris, got on top and finished him.
However, one thing that was different about Boris was his decision to stop training BJJ when he turned 40:
The funny thing about Boris is that, every time we would have a conversation, he would say: “I am only going to do this sport until I’m 40 years old, and then I’m gonna stop.”
And I was like: “Why? Why not be a life-long martial artist? You’ve become so good at Jiu-Jitsu, you’ve got great skills, you’ve worked hard. Why not just keep going”?
And he was, like: “It’s ridiculous for a man to train after 40, there is no need.”
And, truth be told, Boris did stop training the moment he turned 40 years old. He said “goodbye” to Danaher, who never saw him again.
However, the recently resurfaced footage shows Danaher and Boris training together. It’s one of the rarest “proofs” of Boris’ existence, so make sure to take a look at it:
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