Heróis dos Ringues
Translated by Roberto Pedreira
Note: From various back issues of Tatame
(sometimes called O Tatame), Gracie Magazine, Warrior,
Fighting News, Artes Marciais,.
Claudio Coelho & Steve Petromale
Q: Many people say that you are the most technical jiu-jitsu
fighter at present. What do you have to say about that?
Royler: I think there are many big names in jiu-jitsu today.
There are various developments yet to come, principally because this sport has not reached
its peak. The fact that I am considered the most technical athlete in the world is
a great honor for me, but I expect that there will be an evolution in jiu-jitsu
soon and with this, I won't remain on my throne for a long time. It is
possible that there will be other professionals who are more technical than
Q: Other than Royler Gracie, who are the best jiu-jitsu fighters
Royler: Other than Royler and Rickson, I very much like Leozinho
(Alliance). His game is head on and fast, and he is always looking for attacks.
I also like Joao "Soca" Roque, and "Draculino". Also
"Nino", he has a beautiful game, head on, and very elegant. Saulo is
an excellent competitor, always plays from top, without fear or apprehension [sem medo
de ser feliz]. Leonardo Santos is another one who is becoming very outstanding.
Q: How much longer do you intend to continue fighting?
Royler: My father always says that a fighter reaches his
peak at the age of 35. I still am 33 [in 1999] so I have two more years before I
reach my peak, After that, my rhythm will begin to diminish. Rickson for example,
continues at his
peak. I think that when an athlete has a good diet, a healthy life, keeps in
shape, and lives for sport, he can successfully prolong it. As
long as my body can take the training, I intend to continue fighting.
Q: About the no gi events, how goes the rolling recently at Abu
Royler: I think that in the next two years it is going to be one
of the biggest events in the world. You can see this from the numbers. There were more than 130 competitors from 28
countries, and all were paid. For certain, this is one competition
that can only get bigger. If I have an opportunity to fight again, I
will do it for sure.
Q: Do you agree that the Abu Dhabi rules favor wrestlers?
Royler: I think that the same form that favors wrestling, also
favors jiu-jitsu. In the case of wrestling it actually is complicated holding
them on the ground when they don't want to fight, but the majority of fights
don't happen like this, with the exception of the fights of Saulo and Soca. But
you have to consider the fact that, even though the fight is without quimono,
besides the point system [pontuação] is very similar to jiu-jitsu. We can still
remember many tournaments in our modality [nossa modalidade], that a sweep, a
takedown are worth two points, in some situations four points. So we are already
familiar with the rules. Obviously it will be much better to avoid that
when a fighter is on the ground he stands up again, and it was this for certain
that was one thing that contributed to the many jiu-jitsu fighters. In the same manner that it works against
the fighter who can't stand up I think that if it can't happen that you can pull
your adversary to the ground, then nothing happens. The rules should be equal
Q: What do you think about your fight with Ze Mario in the last
Royler: I can't say I liked it because I lost, and that wasn't
what I expected. I don't enter the tatame to lose, especially in the way
that I did. Ze Mario is considered one of the best jiu-jitsu
fighters today, but there was a huge difference between the two of us in addition to which he was stronger, and weighed almost
40 kg [88 lbs] more than me. I am accustomed to saying that there is an enormous
difference between 35 kg of dead weight and the 35 kg of meat that you buy from a
butcher. Other than this, I don't want to make excuses about the weight. I think
he was better. There was an opportunity but his position was very strong, and I
don't know whether it was imprudent or negligent on my part [to have accepted
the fight?], but that is the kind of guy I am.
Q: You are a idol of many people in the Art Suave. Who is the
greatest idol of Royler Gracie?
Royler: My greatest idol and a guy whom I hold dear in my heart
was my first-cousin Rolls Gracie. It was with him that I was
training when I was a baby. Since I was a kid I modeled my game after his. Rolls' jiu-jitsu was fast, and his
speed of reasoning [velocidade de racioncio] was fast, and this always
left an impression on me. Today I think the same way about Rickson because he
also has the capacity to act quickly, always puts his adversaries in a position
of danger and forces them to give something to him. In addition to these two, I
put my father on a pedestal. I'm not accustomed to talking a lot about this, but
he is a person for whom I have great admiration.
Q: It is said that [judoka] Flavio Canto was training at your
academy. From what you've seen, does he have the conditions to win in the Mundial
at middle heavyweight?
Royler: For certain. He is a tough guy. He would have a great
Q: Comment a little on the fight between Royce and Wallid.
Royler: If you look at the history of jiu-jitsu and what Royce
Gracie did and what he represents to the whole world, it is a very big thing..
Royce did one thing that few athletes did, which was to spread jiu-jitsu outside
of Brazil, bring the knowledge to the whole world. Despite many people saying
that there were no real fighters during that epoch [the early UFCs], I can see
many guys leaving Brazil and getting knocked out and only afterwards realizing
that it wasn't as easy as they had imagined it would be. But observing what
Wallid did, there were two totally opposite phases. Wallid always honored his
name and was always a warrior [guerreiro], but as a competitor [lutador] he cannot
be compared with Royce. I am sorry, but technically he has nothing to compare.
Royce is superior to him technically. I can't explain how he defeated Royce but
I think in life there are things that happen for a reason, and
in this fight Wallid had more than Royce, principally because he trained
more. I haven't had direct contact with Royce about his training, I don't know
actually [how he trained], and also it was a long time since
competing with quimono, the same like Wallid. I only saw one thing in this
fight, which was the determination of Wallid to win. Maybe Royce couldn't do what he knew. I believe that if Royce and Wallid fought 100 times, Royce
would win 99. It was the one that he would have lost that everyone saw.
Q: Everyone knows you like to catch the waves [pegar onda].
Why do you surf?
Royler: I like to surf very much, for the sport and to relax,
and it is the best therapy. Principally I like to surf because I like to be
in the water and in contact with nature.
Q: Who would you rather face, Mark Kerr or a 36 ft wave at
Royler: Without a hesitation, I would rather face Mark Kerr.
Vitor Belfort 1 (Tatame Ano 5 # 43)
Q: It is being rumored on the internet that your loss
to Sakuraba was arranged [marmelada]. What do you say about this?
Vitor: My fight with Sakuraba was not fixed
[não foi armada] but it is normal that there is this type of rumor because no one believed that I could lose to Sakuraba. But the truth is that
won. I would never do a fixed fight.
Q: What happened?
Vitor: A series of problems since well before the
fight. I had an operation on my knee for two months but it wasn't enough time to
recuperate. Even worse, I twisted my knee and had two weeks before the event and
had to have an emergency operation. In the post operation I got tonsillitis that left me with a
fever. Even worse than that, I was hit by a car on the day of the
traveling. When I arrived in Japan, I had lost 4 kg [8.8 lbs] and went one day
without eating and it was humid like a sauna all the time. All of these problems I had
before the day of the fight disturbed me psychologically. I won the first round,
but I broke my hand. In the second round I didn't fight, I just survived,
because my head wasn't there. I believe the
decision was fair because Vitor Belfort wasn't there fighting. I ask
forgiveness; I know I let many people down, but I didn't expect so many problems
Q: Do you have a fight set up for the next event?
Vitor: Yes. I'm going to fight in August. I want
a rematch with Sakuraba. He is a good fighter, but not a great fighter. I am 100
percent certain that I will defeat him, but unfortunately he doesn't want to
give me a rematch.
Q: If you could return to the past what would you
Vitor: It was bad luck [falta de sorte], losing
and winning are parts of the life of any professional. Flamingo at times plays
Bangu and loses, at other times plays Vasco and wins. There doesn't exist a
reason why this happens. It happened to me, I was always fighting, taking risks,
fulfilling contracts. The only thing you can do is to fight without training, in
fact, I fought without training. I think that when a fighter gets a bruise, the
first thing is to treat it, and after get in shape to fight. I didn't have time
Q: What do you think about Takada?
Vitor: He doesn't exist. He is a disgrace.
He only does arranged fights [so faz lutas armadas].
Vitor Belfort 2 [ The interviewer is Marco Ruas]
Congratulations on your campaign against drugs.
Concerning other types of drugs, such as steroids [esteroides anabolizantes]
that the sports authorities condemn, what is your position?
Vitor: I am against drugs of any type. I am in
favor of a campaign against drugs of all types.
Marco: Almost all of your victories have been
based on boxing. However, your jiu-jitsu hasn't managed to avoid your defeats.
Do you think that by only preparing your jiu-jitsu you will be a great vale tudo
Vitor: Obviously not. But it was jiu-jitsu that
gave birth to everything. For those who don't know, jiu-jitsu was part of my
first victory and my second, together with boxing. It is jiu-jitsu that gives me
security in these circumstances. A vale tudo fighter who doesn't know jiu-jitsu
will be killed. I think that you are doing jiu-jitsu and all Brazilian and all
foreign fighters are doing jiu-jitsu.
Marco: The statistics for the big events
indicates that wrestling is supreme in vale tudo. Do you train wrestling?
Vitor: I train a little in the base of wrestling.
I think that base is important in this modality but wrestling is a sport in
which the stronger beats the weaker. This isn't the case in jiu-jitsu and it is
this that is its greatness as a technical martial art. Today wrestling is a
little in supremacy because the majority of them are also practicing Brazilian
jiu-jitsu and the rules of vale tudo favor them.
Marco: You know well that for vale tudo
athlete must be well prepared. What has happened to you that makes your
victorious fights so short?
Vitor: My fights are the style of Mike Tyson. My
victories were devastating and the merits of that can't be taken away. Very much to
the contrary, this is the type of fight the public likes to see. The two times I
lost were long fights. It was hard, first to be in a fight
while having serious injuries, second because from the beginning to the end,
nothing important happened, and third, I am an athlete and not a brawler [brigador].
I do my job and not fixated on a certain
fight or living only for my past fights, and I fulfill my
Marco: Why did you change trainers? Weren't you
Vitor: For personal problems, but they are
already resolved. As in any kind of work, you have problems, disagreements,
things that are wrong and things that are right .
(Tatame Ano 5 #
Q: Do you think you have what it takes to beat
Mark Kerr in a rematch?
Hugo: In that fight my strategy was to take the
combat to the last round, but I broke my foot and couldn't successfully defend
myself from the guard. I strongly desire to be able to fight him again and to
prove that I was right. I am negotiating and if I enter the ring I am going to
Q: Tom Erikson? You aren't going to fight him in
Hugo: I was, but the purse they offered was
ridiculous. In fact it is absurd what they do. They offer chump change [uma merreca] to real
fighters [lutadores de verdade] but a fortune, up to ten times as much, to the
fake fighters [marmeleiros]. Tom Erikson is an extremely powerful adversary, but
as you know, Murilo [Bustamante] fought very well against him, it was a great
fight, one equal against another. I believe that if you have time to study your
opponent's game enough, you will always find a way to neutralize it.
Q: What happened in your fight with Tank?
Hugo: That was a fight in which I too much under
estimated an adversary. This never happened to me before. I wanted to finish the fight quickly and it hurt me. At the
moment I went for my baiana [take down] I slipped and overstretched my leg. I
fell and he took advantage.
Q: How goes the rivalry between Jiu-Jitsu and
Hugo: It is finished. It is a thing of the past.
Professional fighters can't have this. You have to respect everyone. I get along
well with jiu-jitsu guys, like Castello Branco with who I was in Aruba and
Rinaldo Santos, who I knew in Japan. Master Carlson Gracie is another great guy,
and a person who has organized fighting events here in Brazil. For me, Luta
Livre and Jiu-jitsu have to work together. We are
Q: What do you think about Abu Dhabi? Do you
to compete there in the coming year?
Hugo: I saw a tape of the event recently and I
thought it was marvelous. The tournament was at a high technical level, only top
fights there, the organization was impeccable, everything at the first level and
it is obvious that not only do I want to fight there but I am already putting
together a team to send. On top of that, I am discussing with Carlson the
possibility of making an event of this type here in Brazil a mega-event. It will
Q: Who stands out among the new generation of
Hugo: Have many strong boys there: Alexandre
"Cacareco" (90 kg.), "Bigou" (85 kg.), "Pequeno"
(65 kg.), "Cromado" (70 kg.), Bruno (80 kg.), Dudu (70 kg.), Juan
Medina (80 kg.), Bosco (85 kg.), Mario
Miglioli (90 kg.), Machado (85 kg.), Claudio ( 90 kg.), Fabio
(75 kg.), and many other good guys who if they work hard they will break out
[get their break].
Q: Until some time before, it was believed that a
fighter who is good on the ground is totally prepared for a vale tudo. Now, the
importance of knowing how to fight on stand up has been more than proven.
Knowing this, are you going to train in other modalities in preparation for vale tudo?
Hugo: I always train boxing with professor
"Para". He gives me personal lessons in boxing and I think that this
modality is extremely important. It gives a good vision of the fight,
but for me personally there is no better way to fight than on the ground. He who
is good on the ground is always prepared for everything. When the right moment
comes, put him down and demonstrate your technique.
(Tatame # 43)
[The interviewer is Saulo Ribeiro]
Saulo: Who do you consider number one among the
Ze Mario: It is me, based on the results of the
most recent competitions. If you don't consider the most recent competitions
then there are two who stand out, but if we consider training Liborio is number
Saulo: We know that training is training and that
Liborio is an excellent fighter, but is it true that he sweeps and finalizes you
constantly in training?
Ze Mario: As you know, no comment about training.
If I get him or he gets me, it isn't worth commenting about.
Saulo: Who do you consider the best fighters
Ze Mario: It depends. There are great fighters
in the lightweight division such as Shaolin, Royler, and Leozinho. At heavy, I like Amaury
[Bitteti], Leo Leite, and some others.
Saulo: We noticed that at Abu Dhabi you were
cautious and fought to get a result. For what reason you didn't go for a
finalization? Wouldn't that have been more glorious?
Ze Mario: When I fight I am not looking for glamour, I am looking for victory. If I feel I can win the fight without running
big risks then I prefer to not to take risks. I have many ways to play and
another reason was that Enson Inoue is a very dangerous fighter.
Saulo: What do you think about fights without
time limits and without points, until the finish?
Ze Mario: I think it would be very good. It would
for sure increase public presence.
(Tatame # 43) [The interviewer is
Ze Mario: Who from the Carlson team would give you
the greatest difficulties in a fight and why?
Saulo: The Carlson team has many great
fighters, such as Amaury, Liborio, Murilo, but without a doubt, the toughest is
you, because you are heavy, strong, and dangerous, and compete well and
constantly. For sure, it would be a war to defeat you.
Ze Mario: The deed that gave rise to the great
rivalry between our academies [Carlson and Humaita] was Carlson's declaration
that Liborio could defeat Rickson. How in your opinion, would a confrontation in
the Mundial between Liborio and Rickson, and Liborio and Royler, go?
Saulo: Liborio X Royler- In a fight with a
time limit of 10 minutes the tendency is for the heavier man to prevail over the
lighter man. But with a fighter with Royler's skills, anything is possible.
Liborio X Rickson - If they train 100
times, there will be tapping one hundred times [Saulo doesn't specify who will
do the tapping, but the implication seems to be Liborio. On the other hand, he
may be emphasizing that both Rickson and Liborio are "finishers"]. In a contest with rules and a short time limit
[Rickson] would have to prepare to return
to sport jiu-jitsu, otherwise, he might lose but it would be not to Liborio,
but by the rules.
Q: What jiu-jitsu fighters do you think have
the conditions to make a good fight against Mark Kerr?
Saulo: That which is going to bring a
Brazilian fighter victory over Mark Kerr is not muscles and technique. All these
things are good, these are some elements that help. But the most important thing
is heart [coração]. If a fighter has "heart" more than Kerr, it is
possible to beat him. I think that Rickson, Traven, you, Renzo, and myself can
make a good showing against him and in case we lose, we can at least say that it
was a tough fight, and that is already a victory.
Gracie (O Tatame Ano 3, no 27)
O Tatame: Jiu-jitsu has lost in its last two
confrontations with wrestling. What are you going to do differently from
what Carlão [Baretto] and Vitinho [Vitor Belfort] did?
Royce: I am going to fight with the right
techniques. Those guys tried to win with force and brute
power, which is what the American wrestlers [gringos] know
best. They could have won using their jiu-jitsu that they have always done.
Q: What did you think about Vitor vs. Couture?
Royce: I think that he [Vitor] exaggerated the
preparation of boxing and weight training and forgot about what was the most
important thing. What is going to win the fight is not boxing, it is jiu-jitsu.
It was the first real test for Vitor, with action on stand up and on the ground,
against his first real opponent It is easy to win by
beating someone down. The difficult thing is to get beaten down and come back
Marco Ruas is supposed to fight Tom Erickson on
the same event [Royce was supposed to fight Mark Kerr]. What in your opinion are
his chances of winning?
Royce: If Ruas plays the game correctly he has good chances to win.
[GTR Note: When it was announced that the fight with Kerr
was cancelled due to Royce's back injury, an informed source in Rio (a BJJ black belt)
commented to GTR
off the record: "If the fight happens it will be bad for the
Brazilians". Why, GTR asked? "Royce can't beat Mark Kerr, and Marco Ruas will be easy for Tom Erickson",
This was of course only his opinion, but he was in an unusually good
position to make a realistic assessment. ]
(Gracie Magazine Ano II No 6)
Q: How do you approach a technical adversary who
has more than a 30 kg [ 66 lbs] weight advantage?
Fabio: I think we Jiu-jitsu guys have already
proven our technique as well as our courage. The Americans [gringos] are not
stupid anymore [não são mais bobos] So they should stop having this type of
advantage. 30 kg is a big difference.
Q: Is it possible to defeat him?
Fabio: I think so, if I had managed to defend
better and my left ear hadn't got injured. I was looking for him to make a fatal
error that would seal his doom.
Q: What was the worst moment of the fight?
Fabio: It was about 8 minutes to the finish, when
Kerr was on his feet and I put my foot in his groin. Only it slipped and he got
dangerously close. I took several punches before I recovered my position.
(Arte Marciais Ano 1, numero 1)
Q: What branch of the Gracie family do you
Machados: The Gracie family is formed of
various groups. This is because of the fact that the most famous heads
of our family, Carlos and Helio, between them had about 30 sons,
with various different wives. Today, these groups are separate and independent
from the others. Here in the USA you can already find these two groups. One is
formed from the descendents of Helio Gracie and the other one is me, John, 25,
and my four brothers: Carlos, 31, Rigan, 28, Jean, 27, and Roger, 29. We are the
nephews of Carlos Gracie.
Q: From whom did you learn the jiu-jitsu?
Machados: We all learned jiu-jitsu since we
were kids, in the Gracie Family tradition. We began at the age of 5 and our
professor always was Carlos Gracie Jr. An important observation that I would
like to make is that, about which there has occasionally been some
misunderstandings, is that we no longer use the name Gracie. Here in the USA, we
have been using the other family name: Machado. And when magazines and
newspapers write about us, they use the name "Machado Jiu-Jitsu".
Q: You challenge other forms of fighting?
Machados: No! It was this, among other things,
that was the main reason that we stopped using the Gracie name. We don't agree
with the philosophy of brawls [brigas] and challenges [desafios] used by our cousins. This
attitude goes contrary to our ideas. We have good relations with everyone here
in the USA. We respect a lot the fighters from karate, taekwondo, kickboxing
etc. I want to leave it clear that we aren't talking bad about the rest of our
family. After all, it was our cousins who taught us how to fight. However, our
philosophy is peace.
Q: Did you also follow this philosophy when
you lived in Brazil?
Machados: Our part of the family always was
for peace, just the same when we were residing in Brazil. In that period, many
brawls had a reason to exist. They represented two people trying to prove
different opinions. We think that today however, we don't have the need as
before, it has already been proved that jiu-jitsu is efficient.
Q: How were your early times in the USA?
Machados: Those were very difficult and hard
times. I for example, worked in a pizzaria. After a little while, we began to
give lessons in my garage and things developed gradually with a lot of work and
dedication. Now we currently have two academies and teach famous fighters from
kickboxing and other styles, in addition to teaching various famous actors, such
as Chuck Norris for example.
Q: At what level is Chuck Norris' jiu-jitsu?
Machados: Chuck Norris trains with us almost
every day when he is not filming or out of town on business. When he trains, he
always wears a black belt, but I can say that his level is more or less purple
belt. He is interested in technique and trains very technically without the kind
of violence that is typical in competitions. To get an idea of how interested he
is in learning, it is enough to say that during the last two films he made in
Israel and Texas, he brought my brother Carlos with him and every morning before
the filming, he trained. It was only necessary to arrange to have a portable tatame
in the room of the hotel. Very simple!
Q: What system of teaching do you use in the
Machados: We teach according to the needs of
the students. We don't have the same program for everyone. For young people we
teach more self defense moves [golpes de defesa]. For those who are older and
stronger we teach how to control an adversary. For those who are older, we
perfect their self defense. For this reason we generally prefer to give lessons
individually or in small groups, to maintain a high quality of
Q: Do you feel a big difference between
Brazilian students and American students?
Machados: One different is very great.
Brazilians train many hours, sometimes spend up to 5 hours in the academy. Here
in the USA, the students train and then immediately leave to do other things
that they have to do. For this reason, we teach with much more details.
Another difference is that the Americans
are much older, stronger, and heavier than the Brazilians. We have students who
weigh more than 220 lbs.].
Q: Do you have any advice for the jiu-jitsu
black belts in Brasil?
Machados: Yes! Mainly for the professors. You
are advised to always implant in the heads of your students, from the time of
white belt, the philosophy of peace and friendship, since the effectiveness of
jiu-jitsu has already been well established. Now is the time to develop
[jiu-jitsu] into a sport that is recognized internationally.
Marciais Ano 1, numero 1)
Q: Chuck, can you talk a little about your new
Chuck: I have already been involved in
jiu-jitsu for three years and every day I like training more. I am feeling the
same way I felt when I first learned Tang Soo Do when I was in the Air Force
during the 50's. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu that the Machado Brothers are teaching
me is a very sophisticated technique.
Q: Is this the first time that you have
Chuck: No. I fought judo many years before and
arrived at the black belt. I believe this has helped me enough to learn
Q: When was your first contact with
Chuck: Various years before I was in Brazil on
vacation with Bob Wall (old champion of karate in the United States) to practice
scuba diving off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. We were taken to
a jiu-jitsu academy and were much impressed with the efficiency of the
techniques. After that I arranged to bring various jiu-jitsu fighters from Rio
de Janeiro to give a seminar in Las Vegas at the annual United Fighting Arts
Federation meeting (my federation of martial arts).
Q: For what reason are you hooked on the Machado jiu-jitsu of Brazil?
Chuck: In the first place, I was grabbed by
the efficiency of this fighting of your country. Besides this, it is the most
agreeable way that I have found to maintain my form at the age of 53 after
practicing punches and kicks for more than 30 years.
Q: Speaking of competition, can you give some
advice to the athletes who are competing and dreaming of reaching the top?
Chuck: It isn't important what type of martial
art, it can be karate, taekwondo, or jiu-jitsu, for me there are three factors
that take a competitor to success: physical, mental, and psychological.
The first is obvious. You must be in the best shape possible, fast and with good
stamina [boa resistencia] so that you don't get tired during the fight. The next
factor is mental, knowing what you will do at a certain time, having all the
techniques mentalized. When I was competing I was in the habit of mentalizing a fight against a superior opponent, and try to arrange it in such a
manner to score a point, and then create more difficult situations. The third
factor is psychology, having the confidence that you can win and believing it.
Many fighters lose because of this item, principally when they confront an
adversary who has a big reputation and is favored to beat them. If I think
"it is impossible to beat this guy" then I have lost the fight even
before it began. You have to try to eliminate all negative thoughts so that they
don't monkey with your concentration.
Q: Were you invincible during the 60's?
Chuck: No! I obtained excellent results, but I
sometimes lost, like anyone else.
Q: How many time did you face the fearsome Joe
Chuck: We fought a total of four times in
point karate competitions in the 60's. I won three of the combats and Joe Lewis
Q: Of what you know of Brazil, how do you
Chuck: I know Rio de Janeiro. It is very
beautiful and the coastline is always sunny. I adore it.
Q: Do few people know about your voyages to
Chuck: I was a secret visitor. When I was on
vacation, I preferred not to publicize my films to be able to remain longer as I
wanted, far from the press. I relaxed a lot.
(Lutador Ano 1, No. 8 Outobro 97)
Q: What was the story of how Mestre Helio
Gracie praised you?
Marco: It was very important for me to receive
praise like that because I consider Mestre Helio to be the only and the real
master of the Gracie family.
Q: You intend to extend a challenge
to someone from the Carlson team?
Marco: I am not preoccupied with making
challenges to others. I am preoccupied with myself and doing my own work. My
style of fighting is not like that.
Q: What do you think of the new fighters you
Marco: I have seen fighters with great
potential. However, the rules that are being established are confusing.
Q: Who do you consider to be the greatest
Marco: Royler Gracie, of Brazil.
Q: Talk a little about the fact that you are
the one Brazilian who has had success in the USA without having the name of
Gracie. Do you consider this a great personal conquest?
Marco: I struggled a lot to arrive at where I am
now, especially without the name of Gracie. I feel it is an accomplishment to
have done everything on my own merits.
Claudio Coelho and Steve Petromale
[Vitor, Murilo. Renzo and Ryan's boxing coach] (O Tatame Ano 3, no. 20)
Q: You developed a system of boxing especially
for vale tudo....
Claudio: Understanding jiu-jitsu, we adapted
boxing to the needs of each fighter. Like knowing how and when to take the back
in a grappling game, and to block and clinch. We molded boxing specifically for
Vale-Tudo, it is totally different from competitive boxing.
Q: You proved that in the fight of Renzo
Gracie with Oleg Taktarov in the No 1 Reality Superfighting, by tap dancing [sapateada
(apparently Renzo did a tap dance on Oleg's face)].
Claudio: Those who aren't knowledgeable
imagine that Renzo was wanting to "exchange" [ box]. That was nothing.
A false sensation by beating an adversary.
Q: But talk about your work.
Claudio: Developing the endurance of the
fighter for punching and for working on the floor. We are giving them four basic
elements: motor coordination, stamina, speed, and punching power. After these,
there are three aspects, which are distance, speed, and timing. I work on the
physical part because I know they have a deficiency when they are fighting
Q: Who have you trained?
Claudio: After Cassio Cardoso, the most
outstanding was Amaury Bitetti, who became a champion and won a trophy for the
quickest knockout, only after that he didn't continue and our vale tudo work
didn't emphasize boxing. Currently, one of our fighters who stands out is Murilo
Bustamante. Vitinho [Vitor Belfort] is my creation [ e cria minha]. He has a
great potential . We also have Carlão Barreto, Bebeo, Crezinho, Rinaldo, Renzo,
Royler, Ralph, Ze Mario, Gurgel, Traven, Gigi [Alexandre Paiva], Castello, Liborio, Renato
Barreto, Nelson Monteirio, Rubens, Cannepa, Fabricio, Sergio Zveiter,
Carlos Gama, Marcello Novaes, Carlos Manga, Pedro Lecerda and Carlinhos Gracie. I
can say that the elite of Rio's black belts have passed through my hands. Apart
from Jiu-jitsu fighters, the only one I have trained is Marco Ruas, who is a
personal friend of mine, even though he has had some small problems with
Q: How did you begin boxing?
Steve: I began with Floyd Patterson, the world
heavyweight champion [Floyd won the title left vacant by Rocky Marciano's
retirement, and lost it to Sonny Liston]. I have 18 wins and no loses as an
amateur. When I turned pro I trained with Don Turny, the man who trained
Holyfield to beat Tyson, and I learned a lot from him. I quit because of
problems with Don King. He promised the world but gave nothing. I was an
amateur and had already beaten various champions at the academy where I trained.
What disheartened me were the problems I had with Don King and the necessity to
make money. I stopped training in 1989 and worked as an instructor at various
academies in Los Angeles to make money. I teach boxing still because I love
Q: When did you know Carlson?
Steve: I have known Carlson for two years but
it seems like 10 years. We quickly became great friends. I greatly admire
Carlson. For me, besides him being the best fighter of all time, and he is the best
professor and a great person.
Q: You taught boxing to Vitor?
Steve: When Vitor arrived in the USA he had
some notion of boxing, but made many mistakes. He trained everyday with me for more
than one year. He had an enormous will power and natural ability and
developed rapidly. Today, I believe that Vitor could be the best fighter in the
world. He is complete. He is good on stand up and good on the ground. Right now
he is training at the academy of Al Stankie, but we are still good friends.
Q: Do you believe that Vitor could win a gold
medal for Brazil in the Olympics.
Steve: Easily. The only
problem is that the Olympics are very political and if you don't win by knockout
you have to hope the judges like you. Roy Jones Jr. is the best boxer I have
ever seen but he lost in the Olympics [1988, in Seoul].
Q: How do you see the boxing in Brazil?
Steve: The training here is not good, except
for Claudio, who is excellent. I respect his work as a professional very much.
All the fighters he trains are winning in vale tudos.
Q: What is the future of vale tudo?
Steve: Only the fighters who are complete will
win. They have to be good on stand up and good on the ground.
Carlson's fighters are now the best in the world because they fight with both
boxing and jiu-jitsu.
Rickson Gracie (Fighting News Ano 2, No. 10)
Q: Rickson, when did you begin your jiu-jitsu?
Rickson: In the Gracie family, we don't have
any age to begin jiu-jitsu. From the time we are little we are playing
on the tatame. More importantly, in our family, is to create as a second nature the
capacity for the movements of jiu-jitsu at an early age. I don't have any
consciousness of when I began training. I always played around and amused myself
and at the age of 6 years, I began to compete and after that jiu-jitsu became a
more important part of my life with each passing day.
Q: When did you begin teaching and at what age
did you become black belt?
Rickson: That is another thing that happened
naturally. I began helping my older brothers give lesson to new students,
helping when I was near or when I saw that someone was having difficulties with
something. I began to teach classes when I was 15, when I had a purple belt, and
I turned black [belt] at 18, which was the time limit authorized by the
Q: When was your first vale tudo?
Rickson: My first official vale tudo
I was 19, in Brasilia, against the King Zulu [Rei Zulu].
Q: How was that fight?
Rickson: Even though I was fighting in
Brasilia, with all the fans on the side of Zulu, I managed to win, thanks to
God. I was an unknown young boy fighting my own fears. It was a challenge and a big barrier to go
through. After that, I began to believe much more in my potential.
Q: Rickson, you have an impressive record of
more than 400 victories with never a defeat. Tell us a little about
Rickson: After I got the black belt, I
participated in all the jiu-jitsu competitions until the year I left Brazil, in
1989. In all the competitions with the exception of those that my cousin Rolls
entered, out of respect for the hierarchy, he took first place and I took
second, I won all my fights by finalizations, never won by points. I was
Brazilian champion, state Olympic free fighting [Estadual de Luta Livre Olimpica]
and champion of the Pan-American Sambo and many vale tudos.
(c) 2001, Roberto Pedreira All rights reserved.
Redacted September 17, 2012.
Revised May10, 2015.