Childhood & Early Life
Royce Gracie was born on December 12, 1966, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Hélio Gracie and Vera. He has three brothers, Royler, Rolker, and Robin, and two sisters, Rerika and Ricci. He also has three half-brothers through his father, Rickson, Rorion, and Relson.
The Gracie family is widely celebrated for having one of the most influential legacies in the modern history of martial arts. Both Hélio and his older brother Carlos are considered the founders of modern Brazilian jiu-jitsu by the members of the Gracie family and the jiu-jitsu community. The family also played a key role in the development of Vale Todo, an unarmed, full-contact combat sport and the precursor of mixed martial arts.
As with his siblings, Royce hardly knew anything beyond BJJ and other forms of martial arts as a child. At the age of five, he started training. It began as a form of a game with his father.
According to Royce’s website, Hélio never compelled any of his children to take up martial arts but they usually visited the academy in Rio after school and during the weekends. Gracie started participating in tournaments after he turned eight. He got his blue belt at the age of 16 and two years later, earned his black belt.
In 1985, Gracie relocated to USA and stayed with his half-brother Rorion in California. They soon started a BJJ school out of their garage, giving private lessons to their students. Often times, they would teach for ten hours straight.
In 1985, Royce and Rorion, along with their brothers Rickson and Royler, established the first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, California. At present, he does not serve as a teacher at the academy due to his busy schedule.
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The Gracie family had a tradition called the Gracie Challenge, which is essentially an open invitation issued by members of the family. Rorion had seen how popular it had become. Inspired by this, he co-created UFC with promoter Art Davie. While Davie wanted to organise an inter-discipline contest to find which form of martial art was the most effective, Rorion simply wanted to prove the dominance of BJJ over other martial arts.
Initially, the plan was that Rickson, the best fighter of the generation, would represent the family at UFC 1. However, he was later replaced with Royce by the Gracies themselves.
Hélio later stated that he picked Royce over Rickson because he wanted to show even a weaker practitioner of BJJ can defeat stronger fighters from other disciplines. However, according to Davie, there was a dispute about money between Rickson and Rorion.
Despite being shorter in stature than most of his opponents, Gracie went on to win the tournament at UFC 1. At UFC 2, he successfully defended his title. In the final match, his opponent was Patrick Smith, whom Gracie submitted by punching him from the top position. Gracie also participated at UFC 3 but had to pull out from the tournament after his first match against Kimo Leopoldo due to exhaustion and dehydration.
Gracie returned at UFC 4 and easily defeated his first opponent, Ron van Clief, who is 23 years older than him. In the semi-finals, he submitted Keith Hackney and went on to triumph over wrestler Dan Severn by submitting him with a triangle choke.
At UFC 5, his match against Shamrock resulted in a draw. Gracie subsequently left UFC. In 2000, he started fighting for the Japanese promotion, Pride Fighting Championships. While he registered a win against his first opponent, Nobuhiko Takada, he lost the match after that, against Kazushi Sakuraba, who would later defeat other members of the Gracie family, earning the nickname, the Gracie Hunter.
In his first fight against Japanese gold-medallist judoka Hidehiko Yoshida, the referee of the match stopped the fight when he thought Gracie was unconscious. Immediately after the match, Gracie protested the decision and it was eventually turned into a no contest. They fought again in 2003 but that match ended in a draw.
In 2006, he returned to the UFC but lost his bout against Matt Hughes at UFC 60. In 2007, he had a rematch against Sakuraba. While he won the match via unanimous decision, he tested positive for an anabolic steroid named Nandrolone. He stopped competing after that. In 2013, he confirmed that he had retired from MMA.
At Bellator 149, he came out of his retirement to complete his trilogy against Shamrock. Gracie won the match via a first-round technical knockout.
Gracie has given lessons on BJJ to US Army Rangers in Fort Benning and to many branches of US Army Special Forces as well as to Navy Seals, the FBI, the CIA, and nationwide Law Enforcement Special Response Teams.
He serves as a BJJ trainer for Israeli Special Forces and trains Israeli teens prior to their initiation into the military. He also makes regular teaching visits to Canada, England, Scotland, Portugal, Spain, Australia, UAE and South America.
Family & Personal Life
Royce Gracie married podiatrist Marianne Cuttic in 1994 and has four children with her: three sons, Khonry, Khor, and Kheydon, and a daughter, Kharianna. All of the children were born in the United States.
In 2016, he filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. According to TMZ, the court documents reveal that Gracie has asked for spousal support from his estranged wife. Furthermore, he has made the demand for her to pay his attorney fees. The documents also reveal that he has requested for joint physical and legal custody of their minor kids.
In recent years, multiple reports have been published claiming that Gracie and Cuttic are fighting the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). On April 1, 2015, they received a notice of deficiency from the IRS stating that they are required to pay the organization $657,114 in back taxes and $492,835.25 in penalties for civil fraud, based on IRC 6663(a).