One of the most well-known and beloved figures in mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu history, Rickson Gracie has earned his red belt.
Gracie, 58, was promoted today in Las Vegas by his brothers Rorion and Royler and other notables in the sport to include Jean Jacques Machado, Pedro Sauer, Fabio Santos, Alvaro Barreto, and Fabricio Werdum.
He earned his black belt 40 years ago in 1977 at the young age of 18.
According to Renzo and Royler Gracie, in Brazilian jiu-jitsu the red belt is reserved “for those whose influence and fame takes them to the pinnacle of the art”. The red belt is awarded in lieu of a ninth and tenth degree black belt.
Rickson is the son of Hélio Gracie, brother to Rorion and Relson Gracie, and half-brother to Rolker, Royce, Robin and Royler Gracie. In November 2014 he became an inductee of the Legends of MMA Hall of Fame, alongside referee Big John McCarthy, and fighters Pat Miletich, and Fedor Emelianenko.
At age 20, Gracie won his first victory against the famous 230-pound (104 kg) Brazilian brawler Rei Zulu (father of Zuluzinho). With this victory, Rickson gained immediate national acclaim. Five years later Zulu requested a rematch and lost to Rickson again, in Maracanazinho before an audience of 20,000 spectators.
Gracie retired from MMA competition 17 years ago with an undefeated record of 11-0.