Footage has emerged that allegedly shows Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend and former mixed martial artist Renzo Gracie fighting a man on a New York subway platform.
Gracie, a 6th degree BJJ black belt, won a pair of ADCC gold medals over two decades ago and competed under the banners of the UFC, PRIDE, K-1, and ONE Championship during a 23-fight MMA career between 1992 and 2018.
Nowadays, Gracie works as a jiu-jitsu coach, owning the Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan, where he’s trained the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Chris Weidman, and Matt Serra. It was near that facility where he is reported to have recently engaged in a street fight.
In a clip that was re-posted by the @choke_lab account on Instagram, a man who is allegedly Gracie can be seen in a scuffle with an individual on a subway platform. After Gracie is forced down hard onto his side, the BJJ practitioner uses a body lock to mount the man.
The video cuts off as another figure, wearing a Renzo Gracie shirt, tried to prevent a woman from breaking the pair up.
“Video footage of Martial Arts legend Renzo Gracie in an altercation on the platform of a New York City Subway station.”
In the caption of the post, the grappling page sought to explain the incident based on information it had accessed through a WhatsApp audio recording. Gracie was allegedly confronted by the other man for speaking in Portuguese with his friends.
It’s further written that a fight ensued once Gracie accused the individual of racism, and after locking in a Kata-Gatame — one of the seven mat holds of Kodokan — the man claimed to have restricted breathing and was released following an apology.
“After coming back from an Academy Gracie was having a conversation with a fellow black belt and staff member when he was confronted for speaking Portuguese with his friends,” the post explained. “Based off of information we retrieved from an audio recording on WhatsApp, Gracie stated that the aggressor was a black/ dark skinned man who was yelling at him to ‘speak English here’.
“In the audio recording Gracie stated that the young man accused him of speaking bad about him in Portuguese. Gracie responded saying that his accusation was ridiculous and racist. A fight ensued.
“According to Gracie the man begged to be let go from a Kata Gatame saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’. While controlling him Gracie made the assailant apologize and released him saying, ‘You see, you’re a nice guy. Why are you doing this? why are you so impolite?”
While the immediate information would suggest that Gracie was perhaps not the aggressor, many have since pointed to Gracie’s controversial history and habit for getting involved in these kind of incidents.
Gracie Is No Stranger To Street Fights & Controversy…
The timeline of Gracie’s controversies began in 1995. After defeating judoka Ben Spijker via lapel choke during the WCC 1: First Strike one-night tournament, the BJJ great repeatedly kicked his unconscious rival before standing on his neck. In the following years, some of Gracie’s actions included spitting on Shungo Oyama at PRIDE 21.
Having been involved in a street clash in 2012, where he live-tweeted about what he perceived to be an inevitable mugging attempt before knocking one of the two assailants out cold as they turned physical, Gracie was arrested for another altercation in 2014.
Gracie, along with two of his cousins and four other men, was taken into custody following a brawl at a New York nightclub, which saw one bouncer suffer a fractured arm. After a plea deal, Gracie was hit with a sentence of 10 to 15 days of community service having been charged with misdemeanor assault.
Gracie’s past controversies have also included verbal moments, such as his decision to quote Nazi Heinrich Himmler back in 2012, as well as comments regarding the police violence used in response to the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd in 2020.
With that in mind, the latest footage is one of many instances that has seen Gracie grab headlines for incidents outside of his BJJ and martial arts career.
What do you make of Renzo Gracie’s latest physical altercation?