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Check Out Nelson Nunez’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nelson Nunez. 

Hi Nelson, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am first-generation American. My parents are from the Dominican Republic and I grew up in Puerto Rico until I joined the US Army. After 16 years of active-duty service, I was medically retired from service. During the latter part of my military career, I struggled with mental health issues and finding my purpose. At my worst, I was taking over ten medications daily and 60 pounds overweight. 

In the midst of my struggles was when discovered the wonderful world of Brazilian Jujitsu. This martial art helped me both mentally and physically to deal with all the issues I had at that time. After my retirement, I worked mainly as a physician recruiter in Houston, TX where I was very successful but not very happy. That was when I decided to quit my job and moved to Tampa to be closer to my daughter who lived in Ocala. I had not seen my daughter in several years due to my service. When I moved to Florida I had several jobs but the one constant thing was my newfound passion in Brazilian Jiujitsu and photography. By now I had been training several years, had lost close to 60 pounds, and was not taking any medication besides Medical Marihuana for my mental health issues. 

With this new outlook in life, I decided to quit my full-time job to go to college where I am currently pursuing degree in Digital Photography from the Art Institute here in Tampa. While in school, I started doing photography for my local Brazilian Jujitsu gym as well as other freelance gigs. I am now a business owner and partner in many different projects. Majority of my work is related in one way or another to combat sports photography/media and providing my services to veteran organizations, business owners, and mental health awareness organizations. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has been a difficult road, but the support I have received from friends, business, and sports community has been helpful in getting me through any struggles I’ve come across. I am glad that I’m surrounded by amazing people while doing something that I love. To say that this has been easy would be a lie, without my struggles I wouldn’t be where I am now. I also know that this is just the start of a very fun journey with many more obstacles to overcome. My Jiujitsu professor a 6th Degree Black Belt (8x World Champion) Robson Moura always says “When things get difficult just, keep moving”. This always reminds me that the obstacles and the challenges that we face in life are usually temporary. Once you overcome those challenges the results are always sweeter. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am known for being a combat sports photographer and business owner, I have worked with many professional combat sports athletes mainly in Brazilian Jiujitsu and Mix Martial Arts. I also do some freelance photography projects for several businesses and other clients. I am an advocate for PTSD awareness and support the use medical marijuana over opioids for the treatment of mental health issues. 

One project that I am most proud of is the “Soul Armor” project by veteran-owned business The project honored the names of over 100 services members who had passed away. The names of the heroes were placed in the liner of a BJJ uniform. The proceeds of the uniforms that were preordered were donated to another veteran organization that provides BJJ uniforms for veterans who want to learn Brazilian Jiujitsu at no cost to them. These names were submitted by families and friends of the heroes. When I learned about the project, I contacted them and asked if I could do the photography and commercial for the uniform. They allowed me to do their Photoshoot and Commercial and the results were amazing. Seeing how people responded to my vision and seeing how many people came together to make this a reality was amazing. I was able to gain so much out of that project really that inspired me to continue to do projects with a meaning. Now that company is one of my main clients and continue to send me fun projects to do for them. 

Another ongoing project I have is supporting the Local MMA community. Currently, I work mainly with Defwar, which is a profession MMA team out of Tampa. Their local fighters have world-class talent with fighters competing in major organizations to include the UFC, CFFC, and others. I have several fighters that I am sponsoring providing media to help them get the recognition they deserve. Seeing each athlete accomplish their individual goal is as rewarding to me as is it to them. What sets me apart from others is my ability to be creative and fun and yet still be professional and get things done efficiently. 

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
In my life I’ve had plenty of luck, I didn’t die during my deployments in the military which I feel is the best luck I’ve gotten. I am alive and can pursue all of these dreams and goals I never would have thought I would have before. I feel lucky to have had so many business opportunities with people trusting me for their projects and having individuals coming to me for my work rather than me chasing anyone for jobs. I am blessed to have this talent that makes people want to work with me. I have a lifestyle that has helped with my mental health as well as show off my creativity and soul in my work. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Lemark Photography

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