BEGINNING OF THE GRACIE DYNASTY
Rolker, Royce, Rorion, Helio, Relson, Rickson, Royler
At the age of 17, Hélio Gracie stepped into the ring for the first time in Rio de Janeiro against a professional boxer named Antonio Portugal.
Hélio won this match via arm lock in approximately 30 seconds. This fight was the first of many victories that Hélio would have against opponents from around the world.
Under the tutelage of his brother Carlos, Helio went on to become a national hero in Brazil. Some of his astonishing feats include the longest fight in history: a three hours and forty-five minutes non-stop brawl with no rounds; and his fight against World Wrestling Champion Wladek Zybskus, who weighed 280 lbs.
Another amazing performance by Hélio was his brilliant fight against Kato, World Jiu-Jitsu lightweight champion. The fight ended in a draw and Hélio asked for a rematch. The second match, held at Ibirapuera Arena in São Paulo, was a very technical fight.
Hélio defeated Kato with a chokehold from the guard position. His victory brought glory to Brazil and international recognition to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
Upon defeating Kato, a challenge match was set between Hélio and the world open weight champion, Masahiko Kimura, probably the best Judo fighter that Japan has ever produced.
This historical match took place in 1955 and was held at Maracanã Stadium, which at the time, sat 200,000 people. Hélio was 42 years old and weighed 140 lbs. while Kimura was 34 years old and weighed 195 lbs.
Masahiko Kimura boldly stated that if Helio could last more than 3 minutes, he should consider himself the winner. Helio fought Kimura for 15 minutes before being caught in an arm lock. Fearful of having his brother's arm shattered, Carlos threw in the towel.
Tremendously impressed with Hélio’s technique, the Japanese masters invited Helio to come to Japan and teach. Respectfully, Helio declined.
Helio also challenged boxing greats Primo Carnera and Ezzard Charles, and world champion Joe Louis, to matches to compare styles. They all declined. Throughout his career, Hélio defeated fighters from several different styles in order to prove the superiority of Jiu-Jitsu as a martial art.
An example of courage and determination, Helio became a national hero in Brazil. After a lifetime of combat, he still teaches the art and has the same determination to live jiu-jitsu as his lifestyle. He is recognized world wide as the father of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.