TXMMA – Texas Mixed Martial Arts

The Fighting Spirit of Joe Mancaruso

By TXMMA Staff // Emil Fischer // Cover photo: Bastos BJJ Midland


Despite terminal lung cancer, Bastos BJJ student Joe Mancaruso battled to the end


MIDLAND, TX – “What a glorious life… Every face I see is a memory that I’ll keep with me. It may not be a perfect memory but it’s life. Sometimes we have ups and downs, but we’re all together and you’re mine for few minutes on the mats… And I’m gonna break precedent and tell you something like a candle wish: I wish that you have a life as lucky as mine, where you can wake up one morning and say: “I don’t want anything else…” Over 50 years of life… Don’t they go by in a blink? See you on the mats! OSSS”- Bruno Bastos, Joe’s instructor

For anyone who doesn’t know, Joe Mancaruso was one of the strongest jiujiteiros that ever lived.  This is not because of his physical prowess but his heart.  Joe used jiu jitsu and a Ketogenic diet to deal with his terminal lung cancer, and as a result lived far beyond the initial prognosis given to him by doctors.

“He went out strong and a true warrior to the end. The strongest guy I have ever met!”- Cindy Mancaruso, Joe’s wife

Joe had a fighting spirit.  TXMMA was privileged to do a piece about him last year exploring his process, how and why he chose to deal with his cancer the way he did.  The reality is that Joe was fighting a battle that would ultimately claim his life, but rather than give up, he chose to live what was left of his life in a way that many aspire to.

“Being around Joe, it really gave me the sense of how very little it means to put up “Nike slogans” as your Facebook posts or talking about being a beast etc.

Here is a guy with 1 working lung, he can’t feel anything below his knees or elbows and not only is he training everyday that he can, but he is asking also for privates and doing kettle bell work on his own time.

Let’s not forget, the doctor said he would be dead years ago! I look at that and then think of how really insignificant my injuries are. He showed real love for BJJ by living an inspirational life, not typing one in for a Facebook status. Leaving an example that people could see and admire long after he stepped off the mats.”- Bradley Barnes, Joe’s friend and teammate.

Joe was special because he showed anyone who knew who he was that there is no limit to human potential.  He earned his black belt from one of the top instructors in Texas in spite of his great limitations.  He stepped out onto the mats and competed in spite of living with a condition that would leave most people bedridden.  For Joe, Jiu Jitsu was a way to prolong and enhance his life, and that is exactly what he did with it.

RIP Joe Mancaruso 10/4/1957-7/19/2015