Carlson Gracie interview: "Living Legend"

From O'Tatame magazine (Brazil)
Translated by Tatiana Andres (Asst. to Carlson Gracie)

This interview took place soon after UFC 15, at the end of 1997.

T
Who was the best in Jiu-Jitsu: Rolls or Rickson?
CG
Of course it was Rolls. He was a lot more technical, a phenomenon.

T
And in Vale-Tudo? Who is the best fighter that you've seen?
CG
Until now, it's Vitor Belfort. There are a lot of good ones, but Vitor is the best.

T
Liborio has the fame of being the best Jiu-Jitsu fighter from your team. Everyone says that he's a finisher. Do you think he would beat Rickson in a sport Jiu-Jitsu fight?
CG
For sure he would win. I have no doubt.

T
Why doesn't he fight Vale-Tudo?
CG
Because he's sponsored by Banco do Brasil (one of the largest Brazilian banks) and they don't agree with Vale-Tudo, but it's being discussed. In Vale-Tudo, he's a phenomenon. I guarantee.

T
In your academy, there are fighters with a very high level of technique, for example: Murilo, Ze Mario, Crezio, Amaury, De La Riva, etc. Until not long ago, Wallid was the most well known. Was he really the best fighter from your team, or was his fame more of a self-promotion?
CG
Wallid is one of the good fighters that I have, but was never the best. There are a lot of people ahead of him.

T
Wasn't there any jealousy from the fighters that were mentioned in the previous question towards Wallid?
CG
No. Even though he did a lot of self-promotion, there wasn't any jealousy of that kind. In fact, the marketing of Wallid helped promote the other fighters from the academy also. Then it ended up being good for everyone.

T
Do you think Amaury would've had a better performance in the UFC, had he been trained by you? What do you think of him as a Vale-Tudo fighter and how is the relationship between the two of you?
CG
Look, the relationship between us is great. I don't know what happened with him in that Vale-Tudo in the U.S. He was dead, with no physical conditioning, with no technical conditioning. If I had been his trainer, the way he had been performing, I wouldn't of let him fight. There he would lose to anyone. Even though I think he's a great Vale-Tudo fighter.

T
What can you tell us about names like Marco Ruas & Hugo Duarte?
CG
They are good fighters, but are not among the top. Proof of that is that they don't want to fight my fighters.

T
How is the relationship with your family? What do you think of the accusations that Reylson made against you?
CG
Reylson is mentally retarded, crazy, and should be in a mental hospital. I have no answers for a famigerado (asshole/troublemaker). About the rest of the family, everything is fine right now. Even though there's little things that I don't agree with. But in the ring, I don't care. My Jiu-Jitsu is completely different from theirs, my technique has nothing to do with "Gracie Jiu-Jitsu". I AM CARLSON GRACIE and that's the way it is in the ring. Who ever shows up on the way in, is going to have to fight against my fighters.

T
How was your beginning in the U.S.? How is your life there nowadays? Has it been worth it for you in all aspects, including financial?
CG
Look, in the beginning, it was a disaster. I was working with an asshole named Frederico La Penda. This guy was the biggest swindler in L.A. I don't know how a man like that can promote Vale-Tudo events here in Brazil. So because of that, I was doing very badly in the beginning. Nowadays, even though I don't have my own academy, my situation is very good. Now in November, I'm going to open a big academy. I'm expanding Jiu-Jitsu to the whole world. I have fighters in big events. For me it's great.

T
How did you meet Al Stankie, and how did he start training Vitor for boxing?
CG
One day Vitor went to train at the L.A. Boxing club (one of the biggest in L.A.). Al Stankie saw the training and went to talk to him and told him that he had huge potential and would like to start training him. That was it.

T
What do you see in the future for Vitor?
CG
Well, in Vale-Tudo, he's already at the top. In boxing, according to Al Stankie, he has a big future ahead.

T
What do you think of him leaving the Vale-Tudo and staying only with boxing?
CG
This doesn't exist, it's only gossip from the opposition. He's going to fight in both.

T
You wouldn't let him leave Vale-Tudo now?
CG
Who am I to tell him not to fight. I would be against it, but if he wanted to leave, what can I do? But I think not, he loves Vale-Tudo, it was Vale-Tudo that gave him the fame. I think that he can do both at the same time perfectly.

T
You always complained about the referees in Jiu-Jitsu competitions. How do you see this problem nowadays? Give some examples of doubted results for a clear explanation.
CG
I've seen the biggest, most absurd referees here in Brazil. There was a fight with Royler against Joao Roque in the National championship of '94. It was incredible what they did with the boy. Have you seen a fighter win from a 5-0 deficit and lose from a 4-0 advantage because of the referee. Joao Roque had five points clearly on Royler, (I have the video of the fight to prove it) and the referee, Redley, didn't give it to him. And the boy without going anywhere was incredibly punished with the loss of four points by Redley. Actually, in the same fight, even if there weren't any points, Joao Roque would've won. The tape doesn't let me lie. There is this guy named "Big Head", he's the biggest rat in refereeing, I don't know how he can go home and look at his wife and kids. He's a rat. There's people that commit errors because they don't know, but there's also people that commit errors on purpose. Another example: Royler was a referee of a fight with one of my students in the Pan-American games, it was between Anderson and Claudio Moreno in the finals. (before another final in the same competition, Royler told me, "look Carlson, now I want to see your student against mine") His student had finished five fights and was going to the finals against Daniel Christoph, then I said, "Is you student going to fight that blond guy there? Man that guy would even beat you. Stop talking shit, if your student doesn't tap, it doesn't count." Then after two or three minutes, Daniel had dominated the fight and finished his opponent. Then I had my moment to laugh. Just after that Carlinhos called Royler to referee Anderson's fight. What he did was too much; it was truly a crime. Anderson had seven points, and Claudio Moreno had only two. Royler raised Claudio's hand. He knew he cheated. It was 7-2 for Anderson. I think that Royler was told to do so. I think Carlinhos told him, that if Anderson won that fight, my academy would have taken the title.

T
Speaking of that, how is your relationship with the Federation?
CG
I don't have a relationship with them. I was in the world competition as a protest and now my academy will not participate any more. Not only do you pay a lot for the registration, (basically equal to a month's minimum wage salary) but also you get cheated. We are making our own federation now, were going to make better competitions where the athletes will basically pay nothing, because that's the way it should be. It's absurd; the fighter makes the show and still has to pay to be involved. All this money goes in the president of the Federations' pocket.

T
Who is going to rule over the new Federation?
CG
Janualdo Damardil, a very good politician who's going to get a lot of sponsorships and make a lot of good events.

T
What did you think of the fight between Marcio Feitosa and Leozinho in the finals of the World Championship?
CG
In the beginning, Marcio really had the advantage, but after, he got shy and the other guy attacked the whole time. He kept attacking him and Marcio was just balled up. For me, Marcio Feitosa should be dis-classified because he didn't even try to compete. Leozinho kicked his ass and with out a doubt won the fight.

T
How many Vale-Tudo fights were you in? Was there ever any loss?
CG
I was in eighteen Vale-Tudo fights. There was one time in Bahia (North Brazil) against Euclides Pereira, and the referees decided to give him the victory. I don't think I lost, for me that was not a loss.

T
What was your hardest fight?
CG
My hardest fight was against Ivan Gomes, he was a monster. Afterwards, he became my student and became world champion. That was a terrible fight, with three-ten minute rounds, and would only stop if one of us fell out of the ring. He had 98 Kg (215lbs), and I was 73Kg (160lbs). But I was in really good shape, if it wasn't for that, I would have lost.

T
Was he a Jiu-Jitsu fighter?
CG
I think he learned with a student of my uncles, George in Recife (also North Brazil). He was a Jiu-Jitsu fighter and not only was he very strong, but he had a very hard guard.

T
What about Waldemar Santana?
CG
Waldemar was a student of the family for twelve or thirteen years. He fought more than 20 times for our academy. What happened was, he had a disagreement with Helio Gracie, and they decided to fight Vale-Tudo, and Waldemar won. In fact, I was a friend of his, and told him: "look Waldemar, we are friends, but now I can't let it pass, you beat Helio, now your going to have to fight me. I have nothing against you, but in the ring, I'm going to beat the shit out of you!" And I did. I fought against him six times. I won four times, and two were a draw. He was tough shit. If it were today, he would be one of the best fighters.

T
What's the reason for your disagreement with Helio Gracie?
CG
I have nothing against him, the only problem is that he's going around telling lies, you know what I mean? He goes around saying that his sons are the biggest & best fighters in the world and that they discovered the invincibility. His students lose everything here in Brazil. OK, Royce did well in the U.S. He beat everyone there, but no one knew anything then. Here in Brazil, I've never seen Royce win ONE championship. He lost to everyone. He lost to De La Riva, who was so much smaller than him. He tapped out to Paschoal. He's a good fighter, but never won anything here. He's not this "phenomenon" that they talk about.

T
And Rorion? How is your relationship with him nowadays?
CG
The problem with him is that he trademarked the name "Gracie Jiu-Jitsu" in the U.S. but he's not going to keep me from using "Carlson Gracie". Like I said, I want nothing to do with "Gracie Jiu-Jitsu". I am "Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu" . Nowadays, the "Gracie Jiu-Jitsu" is old. They say that strength doesn't count, but it does. Maybe it wouldn't make a difference if the opponent didn't know anything. If the opponent knows something, then the strength starts to count. Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a combination. It's endurance, technique, etc. I'm not going to have a student of mine who's 90Kg (198Lbs) fight someone who weighs 130Kg (286Lbs) and is very good also. They're lost, they've stopped in time and space. Along with my students, I've evolved the Jiu-Jitsu even further. They call themselves the best, but they don't prove it. In the U.S., they don't enter their students into any outside competitions. Let me tell you a little story about Rorion. Every day Rorion used to come to me and ask me if I knew how to speak English, and I would say no, I didn't know how at all, and he would keep asking me and Rillion every day. Then he invited us to do a television interview with him. He was sitting in the middle, and Rillion & I were on either side. I couldn't understand a thing. All I understood him saying was "Rillion Gracie and Carlson Gracie" once in a while, and pointing at us. OK, one month goes by, and I was here in Brazil when a friend of mine called me to say: "Carlson, I saw the interview with you, Rorion and Rillion in the U.S., he only told lies." "You don't know any English, do you?" "He only said bullshit, and you were practically agreeing with him." "He would talk and turn to the sides saying that you and Rillion were there to confirm it." Then I went to my friend's house, for him to translate exactly what was said. Then I found out that Rorion said that he was a national champion for 20 years and had never lost and that he had invented the Gracie diet. He even said that my dad was just a fucking assistant of his and that it was Helio Gracie who brought Jiu-Jitsu to Brazil. Lies over lies! When I found out, I was so mad!

T
What do you think of the wrestling fighters?
CG
Wrestling is a hard fight. The guys are very strong and have excellent technique for takedowns, and they make it very hard to win. Of course in the same weight category, Jiu-Jitsu is better. You see, Fabio Gurgel fought a guy that weighed 30Kg (66lbs) more than him. Murilo, against a monster with 40Kg (88Lbs) more. This Tom Erickson is the most dangerous Vale-Tudo fighter out there. Not forgetting to mention that these guys train in everything: Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, etc. not only in wrestling. You can't keep giving the advantage of weight to them.

T
Talk about the hype around the name "Vitor Gracie".
CG
In the beginning, my family was against it. They kept saying no, because they thought he was going to lose. I decided to let it go, and Vitor started winning, and then the family recognized it. But it was too late, I didn't want it anymore, and neither did Vitor.

T
Let's talk about something else. What do you like outside of Jiu-Jitsu?
CG
I'm a music lover. Good music for me is everything. It could be any kind, if its good, I like it. I think I have good taste. I also like Tennis, Basketball, Soccer, etc. sports are very good.

T
What kind of music do you prefer?
CG
Romantic, Flamenca, the big orchestras. Now who I really like is Yma Sumac. To get an idea, she's the only human being who can achieve a 1/8th octave in her voice. She's now 91 years old. When I was seventeen years old, I was already a big fan. I have all of her music and couldn't believe that I saw here in concert in the U.S. She's incredible.

T
Is it true that you gave dance classes?
CG
Ah, I used to teach girls in the xa xa xa era. That was the kind of dance that lasted longer. There was rock, twist and lambada, but the xa xa xa stayed at the top of the charts for 4 or 5 years. I learned with Brigitte Bardot's boyfriend. Back in the days there was a nightclub named the Black Horse, and they came to bring this dance here. I was very good and I used to teach the girls. The funny thing is that only girls would take the classes, the guys I would kick out. (laughs).

T
To finish this, talk about your sponsors for us?
CG
Look, I have my sponsor here by my side. Which is my friend, and I don't trade him for anyone. He's Julio from Arrebentacao. He's a very good sponsor. There are a lot of other companies offering me a lot more, but (laughs) I won't switch, no way.

CG
Carlson explains the losses in the Ultimate XV:

Vitor
"How does someone that spends two weeks locked in a bedroom with his girlfriend before a fight expect to win? A day before the fight, he had boxing training with Al Stankie and got tired. I told him that if he didn't win the fight within five minutes, he was going to lose. And that's what happened. If he rests for fifteen days, he'll be back to normal".
Carlao
"For me, Carlao won that fight, I think that he didn't do everything that he was doing when training. He eats all day long, not even giving his body a half-hour rest to regenerate. It can only be that, because the training was perfect."