How Surfing Saved Salvadoran Olympian Bryan Pérez From Joining A Gang - Stab Mag
Photo by DM

How Surfing Saved Salvadoran Olympian Bryan Pérez From Joining A Gang

A wild story from one of El Salvador’s best surfers.

elsewhere // Jun 15, 2021
Words by Jack Mutschler
Reading Time: < 1 minutes

We’ve met Bryan Pérez before. The Salvadoran local inked a deal with Billabong after showing up Griffin Colapinto, Seth Moniz, Eithan Osborne, and more during a team trip to Central America. What we didn’t know is just how hard life was for Perez growing up. According to Vice News:

In 2008, gangs in El Salvador, mainly the Mara Salvatrucha, known as MS-13, and the two factions of Barrio 18, already controlled most of the country, including the community where Pérez grew up. In 2015, the Salvadoran government estimated that there were 60,000 active gang members, in a country with a population of 6.7 million. By that count, almost one percent of the population are active gang members, without taking into account their collaborators and lower-ranking members.

Pérez watched many of his friends ditch their QS dreams to join gangs. The surfing scene in El Salvador didn’t offer much promise, and gang-related activities offered a way to put food on the table.

Bryan Pérez believes that surfing is what kept him on the right path. “Surfing is not only a sport; it is a lifestyle that brings many opportunities for growth. It teaches you to be a better person and to be very grateful,” he says.

Pérez’s story is filled with both triumphs and hardships. Read more about it, here.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 3 

Nike has entered the chat.

Oct 5, 2022

Unlocked: Leonardo Fioravanti’s Stab Edit Of The Year Entry 

Watch 'The Cut' now, and baffle at the quality of both the waves and the…

Oct 4, 2022

The Pro Surfer Who Filmed A War Documentary In Ukraine

Damien Castera's got a story to tell.

Oct 4, 2022

Honest Review(s): O’Neill Hyperfreak Fire

Pushing the Limits of Wetsuit Tech for Men & Women

Oct 3, 2022

How Much Would You Pay For A Session Like This?

A cost-per-vision breakdown of Kian Martin and Tai Buddha's latest strike mission.

Oct 2, 2022

Ongoing Dialogue: Jack Freestone And Album’s Matt Parker On How They Get Sparks To Fly

"Nowadays, a standard thruster feels pretty alt to me." -Jack

Oct 2, 2022

Davo’s Death Strikes At Surfing’s Core

The underground icon battled demons til the end. His untimely demise is yet another cautionary…

Oct 1, 2022

Macaroni in the Pot

Jaleesa Vincent and 200 Lefts in the Mentawais

Oct 1, 2022

Introducing A Brand New Travel Series (With A Familiar Name)

Watch the first New York episode of Stab & Red Bull's No Contest Off Tour.

Sep 30, 2022

Leandro Dora: Pro Surfer, Businessman, Punk Rock Festival Organizer, Spiritual Mentor, And World Title Winning Surf Coach 

Meet one of the most beloved and effective individuals in the athlete's zone.

Sep 29, 2022


You’re Gonna Click On A New Oscar Langburne Video

Style that can't be denied.

Sep 29, 2022

Long Read: An Angel At My Table

From Stab Issue 15, October 2006: Chris Davidson has one more shot at the big…

Sep 28, 2022


Watch: Kalani David’s Last Dance

A final surf part from the Hawaiian surf/skate prodigy.

Sep 28, 2022

Taylor Steele Won’t Let Surf Filmmaking Die Without a Fight

Movies shown, filmmaking advice, punk rock at the 2022 Solento Surf Festival.

Sep 28, 2022

Wait, Are We Going To See Moana Jones In The Olympics At Teahupo’o?

Team USA (women) and Japan (men) should be able to choose anyone they want to…

Sep 27, 2022

Donald Brink and Matt Biolos Win Mick Fanning’s Electric Acid Surfboard Test

And we had a party in Oceanside to celebrate.

Sep 26, 2022

Kanoa Igarashi and Kirra Pinkerton Answer Call Of Duty, Win Medals Of Honor In 2022 ISA World Games

Teams Japan, USA, and France move into Victor’s Village.

Sep 26, 2022

The Best Euro Surf Trips That Mightn’t Be On Your Radar

Want to know which less-trodden nation offers the most potential?

Sep 26, 2022