PATERSON, NJ- From Larry Doby to Victor Cruz, Derrick Etienne, Jr. to Xavier Correa, the city of Paterson has no shortage of sports stars, past and the present, as well as future, to call there own.

Now, just weeks after capturing the highest honors to be awarded at the Pan Kids Jiu Jitsu Championships held in Long Beach California, Paterson Jalen Mitchell and Jason Dixon have earned their spots on that list of names.

As members of Team Unity Jiu Jitsu in Totowa, the brothers were part of the 9th place team overall, and the most successful team to travel from the East Coast. The team of 14, though vastly outnumbered by many of the other top performing teams, scored a total of 76 points, and traveled back to New Jersey with eight gold medalists, including Jalen and Jason, and two silver medalists in tow.

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According to Naji Mitchell, the boy’s father, Jalen, who has won silver and bronze medals in the previous two years, “put it all together this year.” His success, Mitchell suggested, is due partially to Jalen’s attitude going into any fight believing that “he is the person to beat.” Jalen’s bracket included 13 competitors and three returning champions.

Speaking to TAPinto Paterson on Tuesday before heading to School #25 where he’s in 5th grade, Jalen said that he “trains hard, pushes (himself), pays attention,” and he does what he’s told when it comes to competing and getting ready for matches. Winning the gold medal was an accomplishment and showed him that “hard work pays off.”

For Jason, it was a return to his winning ways after taking a gold medal in 2016 but failing to come in the top three in 2017. Jason, according to Mitchell, is special “because he doesn’t make excuses.” While he’s big for his age, Mitchell offered, Jason is actually smaller than most of the competitors he faces in the Ultra Heavy Division, but that doesn’t stop him from stepping up against those he’s asked to compete against with “discipline and intensity.” 

Asked where he thought the sport may take them their father shared that his only goal is that they “become even better people,” prepared to be “successful in whatever they do.” Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, he said, is an “enriching” sport with “great values.” 

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, who also serves as Paterson’s Director of Recreation, offered praise to Jalen and Jason for their success saying that “Paterson has long been a breeding ground of successful athletes, in a wide range of sports.” Suggesting that their success is another bright spot for the city’s future Wimberly continued by saying “they have shown that they can reach the top, and I am hopeful that’s something they will carry through to adulthood, inspiring those around them to work towards similar greatness, all building towards an even better Paterson.”

Jalen, Jason, and the rest of the Team Unity are now preparing for the American Nationals in Las Vegas in June.