Fallen: The Story of Mateus “Matt” Castro


On Thursday 6:45 am, October 1st, 2015, Tomacelli Jiu Jitsu Academy lost a valued member of our family: Mateus Castro, known by friends as Matt. He was a man of great passion, talent, and humility. Matt’s presence as a teammate, a friend, and a brother will be irreplaceable at our academy.

Matt, a highly experienced rider, passed away at the age of 25 on his girlfriend’s new Harley Davidson motorcycle. Matt asked his girlfriend, Kenia, to borrow her bike while he fixed his brake lights. On his way to work, Matt crashed into the back of a street sweeper on Red Hill Avenue in Santa Ana. He was pronounced deceased on the scene.

The circumstances surrounding the cause of the accident remain unclear, and the investigation is ongoing as the officers that reported the incidents to Matt’s family said the bike he was riding was found in 2nd gear. Leading them to believe he was not driving recklessly.

Matt Castro lived a free and happy life pursuing the passions he loved. However, it was Matt’s laid back personality and the strength of his character that really made him stand out.

An extremely dedicated student and competitor of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Matt had planned to fight in the Jiu Jitsu World League Tournament on October 17th and in IBJJF Gi Worlds in 2016.

Mike Tomacelli, Matt’s jiu-jitsu professor, explains that Matt was more than just a student for him, describing Matt as the rare model student type, whom participated in both the rigorous CrossFit program and the Jiu Jitsu training. Matt also found time to be the forefront of helping new and old students alike.

“Matt will be more than missed. A piece of myself is given to each one of my students. That piece is worth more than any material possession. That is why it hurts so much when they leave the world. A piece of my soul leaves with them.” Mike said.

One of the most cherished memories of Matt as told by Instructor Hussein Elgohary, was the recent Bahamas trip they took together alongside friends Patrick Higgins and Ali Elgohary. “I had to keep on yelling at Patrick and Matt to stop training Jiu-jitsu in the hotel room as they where knocking everything over and my name was on the security deposit!”

“Matt felt like a brother to me. We shared the same principals and goals. We both had a passion for adventure and more importantly Jiu-Jitsu. I had planned to prepare and fight along Matt in the upcoming BJJ tournaments. Every single task that used to be normal, especially training and teaching, is now a struggle to me without Matt. His memory brings great sorrow but also inspiration. The loss of my friend Matt has motivated me to wake up everyday pretending it is my last and truly cherish the people around me.” Coach Hussein

To honor his memory and to raise funds for proper funeral services, his friends and family will be holding a jiu-jitsu seminar and Brazilian barbecue on Friday, October 9th at 6:30pm. The seminar will be hosted by legendary 8th degree Coral belt and UFC veteran Joe Moreira, and Professor Mike Tomacelli at:

Tomacelli Academy
2380 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

While the event is free and open to everyone wanting to remember Matt, suggested donations begin at (but certainly not limited to) a very reasonable $20 for the seminar and an additional $10 for the Brazilian barbecue directly following. All friends, family, teammates, and practitioners of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu are invited to attend.

“As a martial arts instructor, sometimes you just know when a special person walks through the door and steps onto the mats.  You know in the pit of your gut that they will be great, and this martial art will be a part of them forever.  That was Matt.  That was Matt from the first day we trained on the mats, to the last. This family-style seminar and barbecue is what he would have wanted.”  Mike Tomacelli