Posted: 08/27/2013 01:01:27 AM PDT
BENICIA -- In October, 46-year-old Richard Goodwin will travel to Long Beach to compete in an international jiu-jitsu champion.
For most people, that's impressive enough. Yet for Goodwin, it also serves as a triumph against the addictions that nearly killed him.
"I was homeless in San Francisco. I was living behind a Dumpster in the Tenderloin," Goodwin said.
Hopelessly addled, Goodwin went to Vallejo to visit his stepfather six years ago.
"My first instinct was to steal from him," Goodwin said about his need to fuel his alcoholism.
But Goodwin finally realized that he needed to change -- or die. So he enrolled himself in the Recover Center in Vallejo to begin the process of getting his life back together.
pain of withdrawal was horrific, and Goodwin spent a day and a half in the hospital as his body rebelled against the sudden lack of booze.
"That alcohol detox can kill you, and I thought I was going to die," Goodwin recalled.
But Goodwin survived.
Soon, Goodwin found himself surrounded by good people -- the support system he needed to really get back on his feet. He found work at the detox center, as well as Youth and Family Services, and used his personal experiences to guide people back from the edge.
He also began coaching wrestling at Benicia High School, where a fellow coach reintroduced him to his love of jiu-jitsu.
A native of Pacifica and a San Francisco State University alumnus, Goodwin had spent much of his life in sports and athletics, setting a state record in high school and going all-American in wrestling at SF State.
A decade ago, he discovered jiu-jitsu, a Brazilian martial art form characterized by its grappling moves.
"I always wanted to win a world title, but my addiction prevented it," Goodwin said.
Shedding that addiction, however, gave him a second chance.
Goodwin does cardio work three times a week and trains at the ufc Gym in Concord on Tuesdays and Thursdays as he prepares for the Masters and Seniors World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. He's also altered his diet, giving up soda.
"We've got a great team of guys. It's like a family," Goodwin said.
Goodwin now works as a counselor in San Francisco, not too far from the Dumpster that regularly serves as a reminder of just how far he's come.
"At my age, I didn't think I was going to compete again," Goodwin said.Contact Lanz Christian Bañes at (707) 553-6833 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LanzCBanes.
Hometown: Pacifica, now lives in Benicia
Occupation: Counselor, jiu-jitsu competitor
Quote: "That alcohol detox can kill you, and I thought I was going to die."