4 December 2012

Gianni Maddaloni tells his life story as coach and father

Social Inclusion Seminar

Gianni Maddaloni tells his life story as coach and father

He introduced himself as the father of 2000 Olympic Champion Giuseppe Maddaloni. But also the father of Marco Maddaloni and Laura Maddaloni and now head of the Maddaloni Sports Center for youth in risk of social exclusion. He talked about his projects at the Social Inclusion Seminar in Lisbon recently.

Behind the medals they all have achieved there’s a lot of work. We live in Scampia, a neighbourhood of Naples with 100,000 people with few opportunities to grow. I have been working there for a long time, and I was only acknowledged when my son won the gold medal.

The powers wanted me to put me up outside of my area, but I needed Scampia, within my area. This experience started also because when I was young I was in some ways excluded.

When I was young I spent my years in Scampia and we were surrounded my organized crime. By the camorra at that time and what is now the camorra. In that time there were still rules, now they are more criminal than ever. They saw me as an enemy and to prevented me from setting up a dojo in another area. Essential of the story is the backdrop of the circumstances.

My love for judo came from my master, he taught me the rules and respect, I owe him everything. I started 40 years ago.

It is not enough to have a project, it’s a road together. I am also here to learn from others who are better than me, like in judo.

With my children I traveled this road and my road as a master is almost travelled to the end, but I see many champions in this room. And they have to set an example and be a model. Scampia is not just in the south of Italy, it is all over the world.

It is crucial to go to schools and to teach about morals and ethics, about all principles of judo. We need to teach them ethical principles, first the ‘person’ come, than the athlete.

I wrote a book about my life and now a director is going to produce a film about it. He paid me some money and was happy for me, but I said my life story is priceless, much more important. I brought something for the community. The parents pay 20 euro, a social contribution regardless how many children they have.

We teach them the difference between common good and own good. We explain them that also the children of the camorra are against violence. My lessons are free.

Everything I do is based on my own experience in my life. I run a judo dojo and work at the university and I drafted a plan about cancer prevention. 15 Days with 15 actions of cancer awareness. We created a free office where people can come to be diagnosed who don’t have the money.

Young criminals, some of them are awaiting sentencing but are free. In my dojo we manage to talk to them and bring them into the labour market.

We also have handicapped children who work out and train with children with no handicap, because I believe in diversity, we are all the same.

Our dojo is like a family and we all work for the goal, to put an end to crime. At least to fight organized crime. We’d like to create a normal environment in Scampia. Our dream is to go larger. We hope to have 10,000 people in the future.


Maddaloni mentioned his strategy: “First of all you should work with your heart, than with your mind. We make the tool available. I worked at the university for 39 years and met many people in the field of medicine and they support me.”

“I started up with helping with patients with breast cancer. Actions are much more important than words. I am not a man of words. I received some funds but we cannot ask for the money, we have to work for the money and have the skills and develop it, only then we have the right for funds. That breaks through the negativity. I ask you, what is louder: a tree that falls, or a forest that grows? You need to do it.”


Watch the photos of the social inclusion seminar: