Manuel was not the type of man I anticipated when I heard he was a kickboxing world champion. Soft-spoken and often smiling, he moved around the tatami lightly, almost unnoticed - until he yelled at a student for putting herself at risk.
"You're not here to fight others. You're here to fight yourself. Learn to respect and take care of yourself."
Effort runs through Manuel's veins, who opened the gym "Élite" more than 15 years ago. Home to several national champions and European medallist, Élite consistently feeds world-class fighters to the kickboxing scene, a sport fighting to earn a spot in the Summer Olympics.
In the neighbourhood of Garrido, Manuel and his Élite are a good example of Salamanca's rich but underground sports scene. The city in western Spain, well-known for its History and university, is home to world-class sportswomen and men who struggle to earn a living.