In the latest issue of Movement, we took a trip to the favelas of Rio De Janeiro to discover what makes these Brazilian slums incubators for some of the most promising young bodyboarders in the world. We spoke to a lot of people – from globe-trotting veterans to local heroes on the ground – with one thing always standing out: everyone from the favelas has a violent story to tell.
One such story belongs to 19-year-old, David Barbosa, a kid with a promising track record (he once scored Rookie of the Year) and potential to reach the podium in future world tours. Last New Year’s Eve, Barbosa was shot at a party in Rocinha, a favela behind the iconic Brazilian wedge break, São Conrado.
“I didn’t have much money to go out, so I went to celebrate with some friends in the favela,” Barbosa said. “Like any favela in Rio, there are also traffickers and heavily-armored thugs everywhere – including at the party where I was. For us, it’s common to have them present in our daily life, but we do not bother with them.”
Suddenly, Barbosa felt a hot sensation in his leg; he brushed the area with his hand and realised blood was rushing out of him from a bullet-sized hole.
“I passed my hand over a second time, and I saw that there was a big hole where I was able to stick my finger,” said Barbosa. “I panicked – the hospital was far from the party, so I took a motorcycle, but I was losing a lot of blood and passed out on the way. I fell off the bike in front of a bus, and when I woke up, I was already in the hospital.”
"I was losing a lot of blood and passed out on the way. I fell off the bike in front of a bus, and when I woke up, I was already in the hospital."
After a risky surgery, Barbosa miraculously survived. It’s been almost a year since that fateful night, so we figured it was time we checked in with the man himself to see how he’s recovering:
“My leg is getting better, almost 100%,” he said. “Sometimes I have slight pains but nothing that keeps me from surfing. The doctor said that my best recovery would be through running and surfing, so I’m doing a lot of that. There’s fear about what happened, but here we have to live with the danger. Whoever is born in Rocinha knows what to do and when to do it.”
Has the incident changed Barbosa as a person?
“Out fear, I have changed,” he said. “I’ve become more serious and responsible. But I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”