Rockson Gracie - A BJJ Rising Star Who Met with Tragic Death

Rockson Gracie - A BJJ Rising Star Who Met with Tragic Death

1. Rockson Gracie’s Details

Rockson Gracie’s Details
Name Rockson Gracie
Nickname N/A
Born Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date of Birth November 25, 1981
Died December, 2000
Nationality Brazilian
Last Fight IBJJF Pan American Championships 2000
Weight 64 kg/141 lbs
Height NA
Weight Class Peso Pluma (64 kg/141 lbs)
College/University BJJ
Career Grappling/Modelling
Earnings N/A
Net Worth N/A
Favourite Play Technique N/A
Foundational Style Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Rank Purple Belt
Awarded by Rickson Gracie
Head Coach Rickson Gracie
Lineage Mitsuyo Maeda -> Carlos Gracie -> Helio Gracie -> Rickson Gracie -> Rockson Gracie
Team/Association Rickson Gracie JJ / Gracie Humaita

2. Rockson Gracie’s Biography

At the age of 19, Rockson Gracie had already won three Pan American Championships, showing his potential as a purple belt. He proved his skills during his grappling career under the mentorship of his father Rickson Gracie. Unluckily, he became addicted to drugs when he moved to New York. In December 2000, Gracie was found dead in a hotel room due to a drug overdose. Being the eldest son of a legendary family of martial artists, the BJJ world was expecting a lot from him. His sudden death caused a major upset for all BJJ lovers as he was not able to pursue his BJJ career and take his family’s legacy even further. 

2.1 Rockson Gracie’s Early Life and Amateur Fighting

Rockson was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on November 25, 1981. His grandfather, Helio Gracie, and his father, Rickson Gracie, were well-known fighters in the history of BJJ, whereas his mother, Cassia Gracie, was a model. On the day Rockson Gracie was born, his father had just won the fight against Sergio Penha via final choke. Rickson Gracie associated his victory with his son’s timely birth, always believing that his son was destined to do well in his grappling career. During his teenage years, although Rockson’s growth was a little slow due to his father putting him through physical training at a young age, he grew up to be a handsome guy with a muscular build which helped him in his modeling career later on.

The passionate fire to learn BJJ was burning in the veins of young Rockson Gracie; he started his jiu-jitsu training at his father’s BJJ school. With Rickson Gracie at the helm of his son’s training, Rockson quickly developed a deep understanding of BJJ techniques.

He gained great control over his body movements. He understood the rules of BJJ quickly and had expertise in defensive skills with great timing. Even in the Vale Tudo documentary, “Choke,” featuring his father Rickson Gracie, Rockson Gracie could be seen as an enthusiastic BJJ learner.

Rockson Gracie was also seen in the 1990s promotional videos for his father’s BJJ school in the USA. Within three years of his career, he was able to win four championships and also earned his purple belt. With an impressive fighting record, wise looks, muscular body, and bald head with tattoos, Rockson found himself in the limelight as a symbol of strength on every grappling poster in the USA.

2.2 Rockson Gracie’s Successful Matches with Colored Belts

Before his unfortunate death, Rockson Gracie used to compete in several featherweight competitions. In 1997, Gracie made a mark for himself in the jiu-jitsu circuit at the blue belt level after securing 3rd place on the podium of the IBJJF Pan American Championship.

He won two IBJJF Pan Championships as a blue belt in 1998 and 1999 and one as a purple belt in 2000.

Rockson was very passionate and aggressive with precise body movements capable of knocking down an opponent in just one hit . It seemed that the Gracie family legacy was in good hands with Rockson. Unfortunately, it just was not meant to be.

2.3 Rockson Gracie’s Jiu-Jitsu Style

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a combination of 600 fighting tactics, but Rockson only used 36 styles and more common techniques . His fighting style was heavily inspired by his father. Since childhood, Rockson was very particular about his healthy diet to gain the physical and mental strength to stay in the game. His father always taught him to fight his opponent with smart moves, not with an aggressive approach to win. Rockson considered himself blessed to be mentored in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu philosophy which not only focused on the art of fighting but also encouraged physical, emotional, and mental development. During his training, Rockson had a deep understanding of the different rules of BJJ as a sport, knowing the best techniques to use according to his body type such as good wrist control, single-leg takedown, half guard, mount, and strong positioning. Moreover, he was also well aware of stress management, a positive mindset, mental stability , and good self-esteem. Unfortunately, he could not apply the mental aspects in his own life.

2.4 Rockson Gracie’s Drug Addiction/Tragic Death

Rockson was quite a charismatic personality who was surrounded by many friends. During parties, he did not have much money to entertain his friends most of the time . So, he started modeling at the age of 19 after leaving his parental house in Los Angeles. He settled in New York with his girlfriend.

The life of glamour negatively influenced Rockson as he got into drugs and even stopped making contact with his family. In October 2000, his father became worried when they could not contact Rockson for a whole month. Then, he talked to his cousin Renzo Gracie who was running a gym in New York to inform him about Rockson’s wellbeing.

After tracing Rockson’s girlfriend, Renzo learned about the couple’s breakup. Renzo struggled to find Rockson in different healthcare units and hospitals, even asking the police to find his current location. After two months of searching, Rickson finally identified Rockson’s body upon recognizing the arm tattoo Rockson got to show his love for his father: “The Best Father of the World: Rickson Gracie.'' The police informed Rockson's family that they discovered his dead body at the Providence Hotel in Manhattan. The post-mortem report found traces of drugs and other pills in his blood. His father had Rockson’s body dug up from the grave, cremated, and then spread the ashes all around the beach on Malibu Island. His father Rickson was heartbroken by the death of his beloved son and he even halted his fighting career for three years. Indeed, Rickson Gracie was deeply affected by the biggest tragedy in his life.

2.5 Rockson Gracie Foundation

Rickson Gracie founded a non-profit organisation dedicated to his son in 2011. The main objective of the foundation was to encourage young people to learn BJJ for self-defense rather than violence and aggression. The foundation focuses on the personal, physical and mental development of children from underprivileged backgrounds who had been affected by gang wars and drugs.

As Rickson nearly shattered after his son, Rickson died due to drug addiction, he did not want future generations to ruin their futures due to harmful influences. Thus,different school training and scholarships were offered to school kids to encourage positive development. Rickson believed that BJJ has the power to change lives and so he must be a role model for others . While students learn BJJ and are promoted to higher belt ranks at the Rockson Gracie Foundation, they learn the values of BJJ: its philosophy, critical thinking skills, problem-solving, self-confidence, and the resilience to face challenges.

3. Rockson Gracie’s Championships and Accomplishments


  • N/A


  • IBJJF Pan American Championship ( 1997,1998,1999,2000)


IBJJF Pan American Championship
Year Medals
1998, 1999, 2000 3 Gold Medals
1997 1 Bronze Medal

4. Rockson Gracie’s Main Achievements

IBJJF Pan American Championship
Year Weight class
1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 141 lbs

Rockson Gracie’s Mian Achievements (Colored Belts)

IBJJF Pan American Championship
Year Belt Position
1999. 2000 Purple 1st
1998 Blue 1st
1997 Blue 3rd

5. Rockson Gracie’s Top Video Links

Rockson Gracie vs Johnny Ramirez

Rockson Gracie match at the 1997 Rickson Gracie Tournament

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