Rorion Gracie came to the United States with just $2,000 and a fierce dedication to a dream. He would later be known as the creator of the world's fastest-growing sport—a sport that, back in the 1960s, didn't even exist. This is the classic rags to riches story, but with a twist. . . .
Rorion grew up in Brazil with a famous family name—but it was not his name that protected him from the tough streets of Brazil. It was his mastery of the family's highly developed style of Jiu Jitsu. The streets of Rio de Janeiro were like the Wild West; not to mention that in a family of 21 children (mostly boys), there was always someone bigger and tougher challenging him.
The Gracie family was legendary in Brazil for the fighting art created by Rorion's father, Grandmaster Helio Gracie. Helio had developed an adaptation of samurai Ju Jitsu geared for modern day street application, and specifically designed as a system of self-defense for people who were smaller than their attackers. Rorion became the perfect expression of his father's fighting philosophies.
Between Rorion Gracie's charismatic demeanor and movie star good looks (Playboy magazine once called him "the toughest man in the United States" and also likened him to a "Brazilian Tom Selleck"), he had always seemed destined for Hollywood rather than the streets of Brazil. And while many people pushed him toward Hollywood and the film industry, Rorion's ...