Ralph Gracie and Flavio Almeida: The story so far
Last year at the 2018 IBJJF NOGI World Championship, Ralph Gracie is alleged to have assaulted Flavio Almeida. Here is the timeline of the event and everything that has happened in the aftermath.
Dec. 15th, 2018 Ralph Gracie Assaults Flavio Almeida
The alleged assault took place at the IBJJF NOGI World Championship. Almeida was coaching a student at the event when Gracie approached him. After a brief exchange of words Gracie is alleged to have struck Almeida in the side of a head with an elbow and kicked him on the ground knocking him unconscious. Almeida suffered three broken teeth and a severe concussion as a result of the incident.
Shortly after the assault multiple videos emerged from the competition showing the attack. Videos also showed a student of Gracie’s Jeferson Pereira attacking Almeida while he was on the ground.
Reason For The Attack
Allegedly, there was a verbal agreement between Ralph Gracie and the heads of Gracie Barra in the US. In the verbal agreement it was noted that San Francisco was Ralph Gracie’s territory and that no other Gracie Barra schools would ever open in the San Francisco area.
This deal was allegedly broken by Gracie Barra HQ, which led to the altercation. Flavio Almeida is the executive director of Gracie Barra US and Ralph assumed that he was responsible for the decision.
Gracie Barra black belt instructor Marcio Feitosa commented on the incident saying that Ralph had emailed Almeida in August before it happened. In his email he expressed concerns about a Gracie Barra school being opened in his territory. Almeida ignored the email not thinking there was any problem.
As of now there still isn’t a Gracie Barra school located in San Francisco or within a 100kms.
Issues Within Ralph Gracie Academy
Before the incident, Gracie’s gym was plagued by issues within his own academy. Ralph added his good friend and longtime Gracie Barra member Joao “Jerry” Oliveira to his team. Oliveira moved to San Francisco for family reasons. This lead to an excess of coaches at RGA and a shakeup of the staff.
Jake Scovel, a much loved instructor to the students was let go. The face of RGA, Kurt Osiander left soon after to form his own school. Soon after Scovel’s departure. Osiander was quoted on the academy’s issues in a Jiu Jitsu Times piece.
“When I was in Asia, they kind of like threw somebody out who I f**king held for value, and a lot of people like…well, you can’t throw him with him, you know…”
Ralph supposedly implemented family friendly rules for the gym that included no heavy metal or being shirtless in the gym. For anyone that knows Osiander this wouldn’t jive with how he lives.
It has been suggested in some circles that a year of turmoil for Ralph Gracie may have finally pushed him over the edge and led to the incident.
After the incident at the Anaheim Convention Center, the IBJJF were quick to act and hand out suspensions. Gracie and Periera were handed lifetime bans and as of now cannot coach or attend any IBJJF events.
Traditionally the IBJJF disciplinary actions are dealt with internally between the Federation and the affected party but the nature and visibility of this assault seems to have forced them to hand out immediate lifetime bans. The fact that the president of the IBJJF, Carlos Gracie Jr is an uncle of Ralph makes the decision to give a lifetime ban even more significant.
April 2019 Warrants Issued
Gracie and Periera received warrants from the Orange County District Attorney’s office for incident in December. The warrants issued stat that they were wanted for felony assault charges with intent to produce bodily harm.
The filing suggested that the bonds be set at $50,000 a piece and a court date set later in the year.
Gracie Barra Civil Suit
Along with the criminal charges Gracie Barra has filed a civil suit against Ralph on behalf of Almeida.
The organization said the suit was a continued effort to move jiu jitsu away from its sometimes violent rivalry roots.
“We feel that this, along with the civil suit that has been served, sends a strong and clear message that this old school mentality and despicable behavior will no longer be tolerated in our martial art that changes lives to all who practice it, regardless of team or affiliation,” Dave Weber, Head of School Development and Support for Gracie Barra told Jiu Jitsu Times
Weber also spoke on behalf of Gracie Barra on the charges filed by the Orange County DA. “The Gracie Barra Organization is pleased and grateful to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for pursuing justice stemming from the assault on Professor Flávio Almeida by Ralph Gracie and Lincoln Ferreira.”
Renzo Gracie Responds
Renzo Gracie came out in support of his younger brother after he responded to a statement made by Felipe Guedes (head instructor of GB San Clemente).Guedes commented that we are in a land of laws and the old school mentality of “fodacy” (f*** off attitude) has no place.
He commented by saying he (Guedes) and Gracie Barra had become weak and that they didn’t understand what “fodacy” is.
“You are weak and you being one of the main executives of GB shows how weak it has become.” He said that he was the one that helped push the laws GB was created upon. Also that Guedes should thank him for having a job in jiu jitsu. This could’ve possibly caused friction between Renzo and his head MMA trainer Ricardo Almeida and brother of Flavio. Although no problems between the two have been made public this year.
August 2019 Gracie Misses His Court Date
Ralph Gracie failed to appear at his scheduled court appearance in August. This prompted the judge to issue a fugitive warrant.
Gracie’s attorney, Harley Breite, in a court filing said he was in Rio De Janeiro caring for his sick father. He claimed his 84 year old father fell and lapsed into a coma.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Roger B. Robbins put the warrant on hold until an Oct. 15 hearing for Gracie. Judge Robbins is also overseeing the case of Gracie’s student Lincoln Pereira. He dropped the felony charge against Pereira to a misdemeanor after serving 80 days in jail.
September 2019 Grand Jury Indicts Gracie
A grand jury indicted Gracie on one count of felony assault charges for allegedly attacking Almeida.
Gracie pleaded not guilty and denied he assaulted Almeida at the competition last December. This was Gracie’s second court appearance after no showing his last appearance. The judge extended a $50,000 bond and ordered Gracie to surrender his passport.
The website MMA Fighting reached out to Ralph for a comment. “Right now, I have no comment. I have to wait for the court. My attorneys have advised me not to comment.”
Pre-trial & Next steps
The pre-trial conference began on the 19th November 2019. In a pre-trial the the judge will sit down with the prosecutor and defendant to discuss how the trial will go. The civil suit Gracie Barra has against Ralph will be done in a different civil court at another time.
No one can say for sure how the trial will go until it happens. One thing for sure is that Ralph Gracie’s reputation within the BJJ community is already severely tarnished. The entire incident also highlights the ugly political side of gym affiliation and the business behind the martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.