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Coach Shapes Paterson Boy Into Jiu-Jitsu Phenom

Jalen Mitchell, 10, left, is the is the first youth national Jiu-Jitsu champion from Paterson.
Jalen Mitchell, 10, left, is the is the first youth national Jiu-Jitsu champion from Paterson. Photo Credit: Naji Mitchell
Jalen Mitchell, 10, of Paterson, competes in Jiu-Jitsu.
Jalen Mitchell, 10, of Paterson, competes in Jiu-Jitsu. Photo Credit: Naji Mitchell
Students at the Unity School of Jiu-Jitsu – New Jersey, in Totowa, stand behind their coach, Devhonte Johnson.
Students at the Unity School of Jiu-Jitsu – New Jersey, in Totowa, stand behind their coach, Devhonte Johnson. Photo Credit: Naji Mitchell

TOTOWA, N.J. – Jalen Mitchell may only be 10 years old, but he is already taking the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world by storm.

The 4th grader at School 25 in Paterson is the first youth national Jiu-Jitsu champion from the city.

“I like competing,” Jalen said before a recent training session at his gym, Unity School of Jiu-Jitsu – New Jersey, in Totowa.

Jalen’s father, Naji Mitchell, credits much of his son’s success to his coach, Devhonte Johnson.

RELATED: Jiu-Jitsu Expands Horizons Of Paterson Champ And His Students

Johnson, the head trainer at the school, travels the globe to compete and currently holds titles in the most competitive Jiu-Jitsu league in the world, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

“It is definitely the quality of instruction and the attention to detail that Devhonte gives him,” Mitchell said.

And Jalen said his coach makes training “very fun” too.

“He helps us get stronger and he gives us what we need and he likes training with us,” Jalen said.

RELATED: Swim, Bike, Run: How Mahwah 12-Year-Old Became a Triathlete

The training is certainly paying off.

Jalen has won over a dozen National American Grappling Association (NAGA) championships. Last year, he also took silver at the Pan Kids Championships in California and gold at the American Kids Championships in Las Vegas.

Now he is preparing for this year’s Pan Kids Championships. The event will be held next month in California.

Jalen’s father hopes that his son will eventually compete internationally.

“In the future, I hope to continue to broaden Jalen's horizons and help him become a true international competitor and compete in Brazil, Europe, and other countries following the lead of his coach, Devhonte.”

But his immediate wish is a bit more simple.

“My hope is that Jalen continues to do well and inspires others that they can do the same,” Mitchell said.

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