I am Raquel Pa’aluhi Canuto! I am a jiui-jitsu black belt and professional MMA fighter with Invicta Fighting Championships. I was born and raised in Wai’anae Hawai’i but now live in Las Vegas.
I grew up around martial arts as my father was one of the pioneers for MMA in Hawai'i. I did not practice anything seriously until I was in my teens. I wrestled in high school and one year in college where I was an All-American. I returned home in the summer of 2009 and began training to fight MMA. I had my first amateur fight that winter. It wasn’t until the end of 2012 that I started to train Jiujitsu because all the losses I had in MMA were by way of submission. I fell in love with the art fairly quickly. In 2014 I spent a month training at Xtreme Couture and Drysdale Jiu Jitsu. At the end of my trip I felt so torn knowing there was so much more for me here. I spoke with my sponsors and they said if I wanted, I could stay. I flew home, packed up my things, sold my car and was back ten days later. I had no job, very little money, no car and no plan. But with a lot of faith and hard work, things seemed to figure itself out.
I am now married to fellow Checkmat black belt, Renato Canuto. We married in the summer of 2016 and it has been a whirlwind since. We’ve traveled a lot, won a lot and been able to grow so much together. Recently we became dog parents to the sweetest bull dog puppy that we named, Anela. She has filled a hole we didn’t even know that we had.
We are super grateful to have met Jeff, Dewey & Aubrey and we’re really happy to be a part of the N-ICE Grips family.
LEARN A LITTLE MORE ABOUT RAQUEL
I’m at peace, excited and hopeful. I ended 2017 on a good note so I’m really excited about what’s coming next year.
My Addictions are:
Biggest accomplishment in life:
Words that most describe you:
Strong willed, loving, protective
If you could have a super power, what would that be:
What is it that you want to do when you grow up?
I want to be the UFC World Champion, have a successful jiu-jitsu school and competition team and later when I retire from competing, have a coffee shop with Renato.
**Tell us one thing we don’t know about you but we should:
I hate competing.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
I’d change the hate in this world. Hate between race, cultures, social classes or even simple things like in everyday customer service. I think as time goes by there’s less love and happiness being spread and it’s frustrating to me.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
My life. It’s exactly what I want it to be. Renato, Anela and I together. We do what we love everyday, travel a lot and get to share our martial arts on some of the biggest stages there are today. I have created my perfect happiness.
What is your greatest fear?
Which living person do you most admire?
Beyoncé. People laugh when I say that because they don’t expect me to say her but she’s what a woman should be. Bold, brave, strong, successful and so much more.
What do you like most about yourself?
I’ve always been a very understanding person and I think that’s one of my biggest traits. I show love even when someone may not deserve it. I forgive even when someone has done me wrong. And I always try to see everyone’s side. I think I’m very kind.
What is the trait you most DISLIKE in yourself?
I worry and stress a lot. This is something I actively try to change but it’s tough for me to.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Tea & Lululemon’s
What is your greatest regret?
My greatest regret is not having managed my MMA career better.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Physically, my big cheeks.
Mentally, my confidence.
If you were to die and come back as another person or thing, what do you think it would be?
A dog. They are so loved!
What is your most treasured possessions?
I’m not a materialistic person so I don’t attract him myself to things. But I think my medals just because they’re a physical representation of all my hard work.
Where would you like to live if you could live anywhere in the world?
In the gated community up on the mountain in Makaha Valley. That view is amazing.
What is your ideal occupation?
Who are your heroes in real life?
What is your life motto?
Don’t stop, keep going.
List 3 things you cannot live without?
Renato, Anela, Jiu-jitsu
What is your legacy?
The legacy I leave behind is defying the stereotypes of where I’m from and my ability to never give up. I started this because of my own personal goals but through a lot of failure I didn’t give up because I wanted to show the Hawaiian people and the people of Waianae that we are more than what we are told we are. I may not always be at the top but I’ve been able to inspire people to try and to keep going and that’s more than enough for me.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I had a friend who was interning in Hawaii as a Jiu-jitsu/Fitness instructor. I came to him with frustration about some people just not getting what I was teaching. With his thick Japanese accent and little English he said, “You, elite athlete. Them, general population.” Six simple words I’ll never forget as an instructor. He has since passed, but it was something that I always carried with me. It helped me to understand people better in so many different situations.