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.”