Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Gracie is one of nine children, seven of whom are boys. His training in Jiu-Jitsu began at a very early age as a game with his father Helio. Helio never pushed any of the children to take formal classes until they wanted to do so, however they often went to the Academy in Rio after school and on weekends.
Royce began competing in tournaments at age eight. He received his blue belt at age 16 and was promoted to black belt in less than two years. Royce moved to the United States at age 18 to live with his brother, Rorion. They began teaching private classes out of their garage, sometimes for more than ten hours a day. Rorion and Royce opened the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy eleven years ago in Torrance, California. Today it is one of the largest martial arts schools in the country.
Royce’s reputable career as a fighter began in 1993 after defeating three opponents in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship.
• The Pioneer of MMA pioneers
• “He is the Godfather. He is the man who started it all and we all bow down and kiss the ring of Royce Gracie,” said UFC President Dana White. “He kick-started the entire sport of Mixed Martial Arts.”
• Far more than any other fighter, current UFC fighters point to Royce as their inspiration to begin fighting, typically recounting the skinny Brazilian’s historic and mind-blowing performance at UFC 1 in 1993.
• First-ever inductee into the UFC Hall of Fame (back in 2003)
• Brother, Rorion, a co-creator of the UFC back in early 1990’s
• While competing inside of the Octagon in the pre-Zuffa era (2001) – when there were relatively few rules and bouts were unsanctioned and banned in some places, back when the UFC was a spectacle and not a sport – Royce Gracie repeatedly wowed fans by defeating giants who outweighed him by 50, 80 or 100 pounds. This was the intent of Rorion Gracie -- picking the weakest and scrawniest of the Gracie brothers to convince people of the superiority of Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques over other hand-to-hand martial arts. Royce was 6’1, 175 pounds and of average build.
• Under pre-Zuffa UFC, Royce would beat three much-larger martial artists in one night, which astounded people and won him legions of fans.
• One of nine children of iconic Brazilian jiu-jitsu master Helio Gracie. The Gracie’s truly are the First Family of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and probably of MMA, for that matter
• Once beat Sumo Grand Champ Akebono in an MMA fight; Akebono stood 6’8 and weighed roughly 486 pounds. Royce submitted Akebono in under three minutes.
• Presently 44 years old (13-2-2 record, 11-2-1inside of the Octagon)