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Renato Moicano, a marvel who fights for freedom

The Brazilian UFC fighter won an audience at Acton University that initially viewed him with skepticism, but ended up marveling at the eloquence and depth of a man who has become central to the cultural struggle in which we find ourselves.

Acton Institute.Acton Institute.

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Last week I attended the lecture series organized by the Acton Institute, Acton University. One of its most striking moments was when Father Sirico, the Institute's brilliant founder, sat down for an hour to talk with Brazilian UFC fighter and rising star Renato Moicano.

Why did Sirico invite Moicano for an interview as part of some serious and profound lectures on theology and philosophy? The trigger was a few-second video clip of Moicano that went viral after he triumphed in a fight: the athlete blurted out a handful of words praising America, the Constitution and Mises.

"I love private property, and let me tell you something: if you care about your fucking country, read Ludwig von Mises and the six lessons of the Austrian School of Economics," he said after the bout.

Are a few seconds of lucidity enough for the prestigious Acton Institute to invite the fighter to a conversation with Father Sirico, an intellectual of our times, and fill a room with hundreds of people from dozens of countries? Needless to say, yes.

The Acton University attendees were genuinely excited. The gathering was a success, despite the fact that it had only been announced a few hours earlier. Perhaps, more than intellectual expectations, there was curiosity. Many may have attended out of mere, almost morbid curiosity, lured by his virtue signaling. But, by the end, each and every one of us was definitely impressed.

"I am not a model as a man. The only model is Jesus Christ," he said. And each of his statements were substantiated and contextualized. What led him to embrace Austrian economics? Well, life itself. His appreciation of freedom, socialism and the burden of the state starts from his own experience.

"I was a socialist, I thought the state should give me everything and that regulations and taxes were OK, until I started working," he told an audience that laughed at his wit and applauded his clear-headedness.

On taxes, he is clear: high taxes lead to illegality, to the black market." "People always find ways to protect their money," he says. He gives his country, Brazil, as an example: "By printing money, with taxes, they are kicking investors."

Renato understands well that to be a good man, it is not enough to be successful and talented in your skill. You have to cultivate yourself. "You have to be smart. You have to stand up for yourself. You're free to speak, but what you say has consequence," he says. That means it's time to polish your ideas.

The fighter praises capitalism and the right to own property. He knows that without property, there is no incentive, no will to prosper. And if individually we don't prosper, societies don't prosper.

Not only in the economic aspect. For Renato Moicano, it is fundamental that the state does not get involved in the freedoms of the individual. And one of those freedoms, so much in question today, is the freedom to educate your children or, as parents, to choose what is best for them.

Renato is a fighter, but he is an activist. He wants to push the ideas of freedom, free markets and a virtuous society in the United States, for the simple reason that he now lives in the United States "and I came here to prosper."

"I believe America is changing. People who were born here feel entitled, they think the government owes them," criticizes Renato Moicano. For him, the essence of the American dream, of fighting for your prosperity, of earning your way, has been diluted. Instead, it has been replaced by, as he calls it, a sense of entitlement.

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It is real life that leads you to embrace what is natural. Market economics, morality and discipline. Otherwise, you get lost, says Renato Moicano. He talks about these issues, at the risk of being canceled, but without fear. In the end, he does not care about the consequences of his freedom of expression. He is willing to assume all the costs because, deep down, he knows that the majority thinks like him.

"99% of people are conservative, maybe they don't know it. Their instincts are conservative. If you like to compete, you're probably a classic liberal. My view is that people who have to fight harder for their money, for their success, tend to be more conservative," says Moicano.

Why did Moicano's conversation with Sirico even generate a standing ovation from Acton University attendees? Superficially one might assume that most of us underestimate him and, to see a tattooed UFC fighter, his face clearly scarred by punches, string together a couple of eloquent sentences on Austrian economics and capitalism, is surprising. But that's not the case and to appreciate him in that way would be too reductionist.

Renato Moicano is not your average fighter. Not only is he very intelligent and eloquent, but he combines a series of characteristics that make him a marvel. Moicano is a successful fighter, but he is also an activist. And not only is he an activist, but he has the right ideas. And not only does he have the right ideas, but he conveys them eloquently and in a humorous way. There really is no other like him.

In a world crowded with athletes-turned-left-wing pseudo-activists, it is heartening to see a young man who, from experience, speaks out unabashedly in favor of freedom and morality, even at the risk of having his words thwart his rising career. Moicano is one of those men who will help win the cultural struggle in which classical liberalism and conservatism are simply not enough.