Jacoby Marshall of Warrenton started playing sports in grade schools. He was a natural. Many renowned coaches, regionally and nationally, recognized his talents and took him under his wing. He’s trained with some of the best, in several different sports, including Dale Freeman, Chuck Bergeson, Dennis Warren, and most recently, Zachery and Nathan Adamson at Adamson Bro’s Jiu-Jitsu in Seaside.
Unfortunately, even All-American athletes like Jacoby struggle with depression and lack of motivation at times. After he retired from Minor-league baseball at 24 years old, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. He felt lost and somehow, over the years, managed to eat his way up to 300 pounds! Wrestling and baseball were long forgotten. It was hard enough just to tie his shoes. But he knew he had to do something. So, in 2013 he walked into the Adamson Bro’s Jiu-Jitsu Martial Arts School, ready to make a change.
He started training like his life depended on it, and it probably did. According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, right behind tobacco use. He put his blood, sweat, and tears into learning Jiu-Jitsu, a Japanese Martial Art brought to Brazil in the early 1900s, where it became a well-respected sport.
He lost his first fight terribly, but instead of getting angry, he became even more motivated. Humbled and inspired, he got up, brushed himself off, and worked even harder. It was challenging to find sparring partners and others willing to fight him because of his size. He recognized he had to lose a significant amount of weight, so he hired a nutritionist and cut dairy and gluten entirely out of his diet.
Jacoby now weighs about 215 pounds and recently traveled to IBJJF in Dallas, Texas, to compete, and he won gold in both his brackets! Standing there on the podium was a dream come true for Jacoby. All of his work and training paid off. As he stood there, he thought about his mentors, who taught him how to fight, how always to give his best, and how to be a man. He also thought about the students he currently trains at Adamson Bro’s and what his win would mean to them. I’m sure he had a lump in his throat and maybe even a tear in his eyes.
I asked Jacoby what does he attribute his success to. His answer could apply to anyone that wants to win in any situation. “Surround yourself with good people and learn everything you can from them,” he said. “Commit to training, even when you don’t feel like it. Keep a clean diet, and do your best every day.” I guess it boils down to self-discipline, and if you can’t do it, find someone that will coax it out of you.
He also said that love inspires him. He believes in telling his students, professors, and colleagues, “I love you.” What a beautiful thing that must be to hear from such a successful man! Still, the thing he said that surprised me most was, “Losing is my best teacher.” That statement has stuck with me in the days since our interview. It’s profound and sincere.
What is next for Jacoby Marshall? Aside from Jiu-Jitsu, he also works at the Dundee Bar and Grill. He wants everyone to know that Adamson Jiu-Jitsu is open for business. He encourages you to try it and to get and stay healthy. He’s always looking for more sponsors and is accepting new students. I can only imagine what he might still accomplish with such a winning attitude!