How Surfing Saved Salvadoran Olympian Bryan Pérez From Joining A Gang
A wild story from one of El Salvador’s best surfers.
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.
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