(Photo via Ricardo Bayona)
By Elias Cepeda
[Ed. note: This is the first in a series of interviews with the fighters and promoters behind Metamoris II: Gracie vs. Aoki, which goes down June 9th in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for more, and follow Metamoris on Facebook and Twitter for important event updates.]
When your father invented the UFC and passed the name ‘Gracie’ down to you, there’s got to be a lot of pressure to become great at Jiu Jitsu and fighting. However, with two older brothers who got a head start on training because of age, Ralek Gracie had to wait a long time before he could even begin to compete with Ryron and Rener, the oldest sons of Rorian Gracie.
“I was probably eighteen or nineteen [before I could begin to compete with Ryron and Rener],” Ralek admits to CagePotato.
“It was rough, for sure. But getting through it made me who I am. Pressure creates diamonds. It absolutely made me tougher. You’re only as good as who you train with. They were competing with each other and then with me, so I got the best of both worlds. They sharpened themselves and then sharpened me. Life is about accepting that you are sharpening yourself along your journey, every day.”
Getting beaten up every day by your trained-to-kill older brothers made Ralek more than philosophical, however. It can be argued that it made him a mean son-of-a-gun when he needed to be, namely in fights.
With their “Gracie Breakdown,” national product endorsements and television segments, the fight world is growing accustomed to hearing from Rener and Ryron Gracie. In addition to being extremely technical Jiu Jitsu practitioners, they’re charismatic, verbose, and gregarious in public.
They seem poised to replace their father Rorian as the voice of the Gracie family, and its related public relations/business operations. On the other end of the spectrum, Ralek isn’t heard from often.
As he tends to his infant son while speaking with us one recent afternoon, Ralek is thoughtful and well-spoken, almost a surprise given how rarely he has a microphone in his face and how quiet he seems on the rare occasions that he does.