When I was a white belt Royce Gracie was God.
Hell, the reason I found out about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the first place was from Googling the phrase “most affective martial art” and Jiu-Jitsu popped up; an occurrence that probably wouldn’t have taken place if it wasn’t for Royce’s success in the early days of the UFC.
The website said something along the lines of:
“Jiu-Jitsu allows for a smaller individual to use their opponents strength against them.”
That sounded right up my alley, because I didn’t have any strength to use. So I started Jiu-Jitsu and the rest is history. In a roundabout way I owe Royce Gracie for my starting martial arts in the first place.
Before long I was watching him fight on pay-per-view. I remember one of the worst moments was standing in front of the TV surrounded by my redneck friends and watching Matt Hughes vs Royce.
Hughes lived 20 minutes from my hometown so everyone was rooting for him. No one trained back then so of course I was the only Royce fan of the bunch.
Royce got destroyed, and while many of my friends thought I’d be embarrassed, I was just proud that he stepped up and represented the art once again.
It wasn’t until the next year that the legendary status started to become tainted for me.
The Kazushi Sakaraba Fight
Just a year after the Matt Hughes fight Royce won a unanimous decision victory over Gracie family rival Kazushi Sakuraba.
I remember watching this fight and thinking ‘wow what an incredible performance.’
A lot of people forget that right after that fight with Sakuraba, Royce tested positive for off the chart measurements of steroids that produced around 25x the natural level of testosterone than what’s humanly possible.
This is probably why we haven’t seen or heard from Royce since. He has stayed out of the public eye long enough for everyone to forget that he got caught cheating.
To be clear I’m not 100% against performance enhancers, but the fact is they are illegal and when two 40 year olds face each other and one is jacked to the gills with steroids it’s like one of them has the fountain of youth at your finger tips.
Royce Gracie’s “legendary” come back
When it was announced that Royce would fight Frank Shamrock again this year the internet was flooded with mixed emotions. Many of the comments I read were leaning toward it really being just a silly idea at best.
I mean, why now? Well the answer for Royce seems that… he could use the money.
Within a couple months of the announcement that Royce would make his return to fighting we learn that he has some serious tax problems to deal including around $650,000 in back taxes and $500,000 in civil fraud penalties.
Not only has he been offloading a portion of his international income into off-shore accounts for a good chunk of his career, but Royce has apparently been claiming to be amongst the “working poor” while at the same time transferring in around $3-million from banks in Switzerland, Spain, and Abu Dhabi.
For me, nothing will take away what he has done in the fight game. Like I said, he is the reason many of us are training today, but the decisions he is making later in life are certainly taking him away from his position as a leader and a man of character in the community.
That said, I don’t think a couple mistakes define a person and the man has plenty of time to right his wrongs in the public eye.
What do you think, how does this all affect your image of Royce?