Helio Gracie


Helio vs. Kato

At the age of 17, Helio (pronounced Eh’leeo) first stepped into the ring in Brazil to face a boxer named Antonio Portugal. Helio won in 30 seconds.

Helio was the first Jiu-Jitsu master in the western world to fight a Japanese Jiu-Jitsu master: Namiki in 1932. This was the first time he wore a gi during a fight. The fight ended in a draw, giving Helio his first credit as a Jiu-Jitsu master in Japan.

Another amazing performance of Helio was his brilliant fight against Kato, world Jiu-Jitsu vice-champion, at Maracana Stadium which seats 120,000 people. The fight ended in a draw and Helio asked for a rematch. The second match, held in Ibirapuera Stadium in Sao Paulo, was a very technical fight. Helio defeated Kato with a choke hold. His victory brought glory to Brazil and international recognition to Helio.

Upon defeating Kato, a challenge match was set between Helio and the world Japanese champion, Masahiko Kimura, probably the best fighter that Japan has ever produced. This historical match took place in 1951 and was held in the Maracana Stadium. At this time, Helio was 42 years old and weighed 63kg, and his opponent Kimura was 10 years younger than Helio and weighed 100kg. The 40kg lighter Helio lost after his brother Carlos threw in the towel.

Throughout his life Helio has had the opportunity to fight many great fighters including two other well known Japanese Jiu-Jitsu masters Ono and Massagoishi.

Helio holds the world record for the longest fight ever: three hours and forty minutes non-stop, with his student Valdemar Santana.

Helio also challenged boxing greats Primo Carnera and Ezzard Charles, as well as world champion Joe Louis to matches to compare styles.p They all declined.

An example of courage and determination, Helio became a national hero in Brazil. After a lifetime of Jiu-Jitsu, today at 89, he still teaches the art and has the same determination to live Jiu-Jitsu as his lifestyle. He is recognized as the creator of what is today known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Copyright © 2003 Rickson Gracie