Brazilian Judo Star Nearly Quit Sport Because of Racist Taunts, Now She Has a Message For the Trolls

After winning Brazil’s first gold medal at the 2016 Olympics Aug. 8, judoka Rafaela Silva responds to critics who hurled racial slurs at her during her athletic career.

According the Los Angeles Times, Silva grew up in the “City of God” neighborhood on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. The poverty-stricken, crime-ridden area made her tough and ready for the onslaught of racial hate she received.

Silva’s win Monday in the the 57-kilogram division of Judo makes her Brazil’s first female world champion in the Japanese sport.

In the 2012 Olympics, the now 24-year-old was disqualified in a match with Hungarian Hedvig Karakas for an illegal leg grab. This time around Silva went all the way to win gold for Brazil.

“People taunted me, they said I was a monkey and my place was in a cage. But I proved my place is in sport and in judo,” she says in a news conference.  Now that monkey who was supposed to be in a cage in London, is out of the cage. And [now] an Olympic champion here in Rio de Janeiro.”

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