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Helio Gracie Buried in Petropolis

(Rolker and Royce Gracie pay their last respects to their father. Photos courtesy of Sherdog.)

Less than 10 hours after he passed away at the Beficência Portuguesa Hospital after contracting pneumonia, Helio Gracie was laid to rest in a modest ceremony in Petropolis, Brazil, witnessed by about 70 relatives, close friends and students. As Sherdog writes:

Sons Royce and Rolker led the procession, a kilometer in length, from the chapel to the tomb where Gracie was buried. At the tomb, Royce asked for a round of applause for his father and placed a black belt over his coffin.

Speaking on behalf of Helio’s son Rickson Gracie, who was unable to reach Brazil in time for the funeral, Mario Aielo said:

“Thanks to this man, there are thousands of teachers around the world making a living from jiu-jitsu and thousands of fighters making a living from MMA. Without Helio Gracie, Rorion could not have brought Vale Tudo to the US and MMA would not exist, giving jobs to many fighters, promoters and managers and fun to millions of fans around the world.”

But perhaps the most touching tribute came from Helio’s granddaughter (Rorion’s daughter) Rose, who told Sherdog the following:

“My grandfather was an amazing man. He was like a father to us. He never got out of the Gracie diet, never got out of the lifestyle he told others to live. Nowadays kids don’t have the same respect for their parents and grandparents. My grandfather not only had our respect, but he earned it. He would drive far away to come pick us up, and he would honk his horn like a crazy man. We would get in the car, and it was full of fruit and other goods from the Gracie diet. He made breakfast every morning for us and told stories at night.
One time, he said, ‘One day I was swimming in shark-infested water. I had to get through them somehow, so I grabbed one shark and put him in an arm lock. I grabbed another and put him in a Mata Leon [rear-naked choke].’ I was young, but I believed him.”

Cagepotato Comments

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Jaimie13- January 31, 2009 at 9:47 am
Iv'e been reading this blog for a little under a year now,and never felt the need to write anything. But I would like to write and say, Rest In Peace and thank you to Helio Gracie.
BrianW- January 30, 2009 at 3:05 pm
dude- January 30, 2009 at 2:35 pm
Netterbog, didn't know that. Thanx for the info.
BigMark- January 30, 2009 at 2:16 pm
tchau Helio... obrigado por tudo.

I had hoped to meet you some day.
Than- January 30, 2009 at 1:32 pm
Rest in Peace, the world is a much better place since you graced it with your presence.
Also, he outlived Masahiko Kimura by 16 years.
Anonymous- January 30, 2009 at 11:43 am
Bless you Helio you changed the world and made so many people happy and become stronger for that we thank you!!!!!!!
My Wang Be Swanging(HITMANBERT)- January 30, 2009 at 11:38 am
Sad day it was for mma. I shall rear naked choke my cat in his memory.
Netterbog- January 30, 2009 at 10:26 am
As for the Brazilian funerals - they typically don't embalm their dead, so 10 hours is actually a fairly slow turnaround for the burial (I hear they waited that long so all the sons could get back).

And the family is dressed exactly like they should be for the occasion - suits & ties are for weddings, "crentes" (born-agains), bank workers and politicians.

Hollies snubbed again.- January 30, 2009 at 10:24 am
Thank God for Helio Gracie. R.I.P
Netterbog- January 30, 2009 at 10:21 am
Descance em paz, mestre.
Pale- January 30, 2009 at 10:17 am
RIP master
SMITH313- January 30, 2009 at 10:08 am
Denka- January 30, 2009 at 10:04 am
RIP Helio.
BJ Penn- January 30, 2009 at 10:04 am
I one time arm locked a rock underwater
Jeff S.- January 30, 2009 at 9:54 am
RIP Helio obrigado pot tudo que voce fiz na vida. Obrigado pelo o dom de jiu jitsu Brasilero.
Danny F- January 30, 2009 at 9:44 am
Rest in peace Helio. You cannot be dead in memory for all that you have born.
Anonymous- January 30, 2009 at 9:35 am
Thanks Helio. R.I.P.
biohazardone- January 30, 2009 at 9:21 am
RIP Helio, thank you for being the man you are. Thank for setting the foundation of the sport we have come to love.
jarhead- January 30, 2009 at 9:19 am
his teachings changed me from one who was picked on, to one that was feared, and eventually one who was respected. Bless you grandmaster.
Wyatt- January 30, 2009 at 9:15 am
He left something timeless and his children are all taken care of because of him. Good father. And since this depresses me one dark humor joke:

RIP Helio, you're up in heaven now, choking out Jesus...
Craig O- January 30, 2009 at 9:05 am
would of loved to shake his hand and say "muito obrigado!" R.I.P. THE MASTER!
LukeTheDuke- January 30, 2009 at 8:57 am
The only good thing would be that Jerry Millen and Scott Ferral wouldn't exist but the good outweighs the bad by far.
A revolutionary.
walrus- January 30, 2009 at 8:57 am
Interesting how American funerals differ from Brazilians -- clothing wise. And they had it 10 hours after his death, that's fast.
MMA Wannabe- January 30, 2009 at 8:56 am
*joking around, guys
MMA Wannabe- January 30, 2009 at 8:55 am
Even if we are joking guys, there's nothing but love for Helio. That man is why CagePotato even has a niche to fill. RIP