Hélio Gracie ( October 1, 1913 — January 29, 2009) was a Brazilian martial artist who, together with his brother Carlos Gracie, founded the martial art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, known internationally as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). According to Rorion Gracie, his father Helio Gracie is one of the first sports heroes in Brazilian history; he was named Man of the Year in 1997 by the American martial arts publication Black Belt magazine. He was the father of Rickson Gracie, Royler Gracie, Royce Gracie, Relson Gracie, and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Co-founder Rorion Gracie, among other sons and daughters. According to one of his most notable opponents, Masahiko Kimura, Gracie held the rank of 6th dan in judo.
Gracie had 19 professional fights in his career. He began his fighting career when he submitted professional boxer Antonio Portugal in 30 seconds in 1932. In that same year, he fought American professional wrestler Fred Ebert for fourteen 3 minute rounds. The event was claimed to have been stopped because Brazilian law did not allow any public events to continue after 2:00 AM, but in an interview Gracie admitted that he was stopped by the doctor due to the high fever caused by a swelling, and he had to undergo an urgent operation the next day.
In 1934, Gracie fought Polish professional wrestler Wladek Zbyszko, who was billed as a former world champion, for three 10 minute rounds. Even though the wrestler was almost twice Gracie’s weight, he could not defeat him, and the match ended in a draw. Gracie then defeated Taro Miyake, a Japanese professional wrestler and judoka (practitioner of judo) who had an extensive professional fighting record and worked for Ed “Strangler” Lewis in the United States of America.
Gracie also fought several Japanese judoka under submission rules. In 1932, he fought Japanese judoka Namiki. The fight ended in a draw although Hélio was already twisting his arm when the bell rang. He defeated the Japanese heavyweight judoka and sumo wrestler Massagoishi via armlock. Gracie had two fights with Yasuichi Ono after Ono choked out George Gracie (Hélio Gracie’s brother) in a match. Both fights ended in a draw. Gracie fought judoka Yukio Kato twice.The first time was at Maracanã stadium and they went to a draw. Afterwards, Kato asked for a rematch. The rematch was held at Ibirapuera Stadium in São Paulo and Gracie won by front choke from the guard.
In May 1955, at the YMCA in Rio de Janeiro, Gracie participated in a 3 hour 42 minute fight against his former student Valdemar Santana with Santana knocking out Gracie with a soccer kick.In 1951, famous judoka Masahiko Kimura defeated Gracie in a submission judo/jiujitsu match held in Brazil. Being small and undersized never stopped Helio from becoming a great competitor. A man that believed in his abilities and was willing to put it on the line against the best . For all the disputes that exist today ,nothing can take away from a man that put it all on the line to defend the family name. A tough fighter ,a fierce competitor ,and a great martial artist. All of those that ever did Brazilian Jui jitsu owe a huge debt to small undersized man that refused to quit and helped refine the Gracie style of Jiu-jitsu