Rickson Gracie, son of Helio Gracie, was born into Brazilian jiu-jitsu. At the age of four years he began competing; at 15 he started to teach it; and at 18 he received his black belt.
At 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.