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Heather Raftery

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Heather Raftery is an American grappler and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under André Galvão, who worked extensively with a variety of other respected instructors, namely Josh Hinger, Roberto Abreu (Cyborg), Steve Hordinski and JJ Pugsley. A former world champion in the equestrian sport of Cutting, Raftery would later conquer this same prestigious nomenclature in no-gi jiu-jitsu, under the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), one of grappling’s toughest circuits.

Heather Raftery Jiu-Jitsu

Full Name: Heather H. Raftery

Nickname: Raftery often uses the tag “Jiu-Jitsu Gypsy” in her social media presence due to her nomadic nature.

Lineage: Carlos Gracie > Reyson GracieOsvaldo Alves > Luis Dagmar > André Galvão > Heather Raftery

Main Achievements:

  • 1st Place IBJJF Las Vegas Open No-Gi (2019**)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Austin Summer Open No-Gi (2019)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF World Master Championship (2019)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF World Championship No-Gi (2017 / 2019)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF World Championship No-Gi (2018 / 2019*)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF Las Vegas Open (2019)

Main Achievements (Colored Belts):

  • 1st Place IBJJF World Championship No-Gi (2016 brown)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Pans Championship No-Gi (2015** brown)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF World Championship No-Gi (2014 purple, 2015 brown)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF World Master Championship (2016 brown)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF World Championship (2015** purple, 2017 brown)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF World Championship No-Gi (2014* purple, 2015*/2016* brown)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF World Master Championship (2016* brown)

Favorite Position/Technique: Crucifix Position / Guillotine

Weight Division: Peso Pena (58,50 kg / 129.0 lbs)

Team/Association: Atos

Heather Raftery Biography

Heather Raftery was born on April 22, 1986, in Tucson, a city located in the State of Arizona, in the United States of America, being raised in various ranches in Southern Arizona due to her father’s work as a horse trainer and professional bull-rider, which had the family traveling on a frequent basis.

As a child, Heather rode horses competitively, in an event known as cutting — a western-style equestrian competition in which a horse and rider work together to demonstrate the horse’s athleticism and ability to handle cattle in front of a panel of judges. Raftery spent her formative years traveling around the country, going to cutting horse competitions, doing so at the national level from the age of 12 to 21. In the process the young Arizona native conquered multiple State Championships, becoming a World Champion in 2006 on a horse she had raised and trained with her father.

It was only after Heather put aside her career in cutting, at the age of 22 (Jan. 2009), that she decided to join a martial arts school. She had just graduated from college at the time and started traveling regularly abroad by herself. Fearing for her safety, Raftery’s father advised her to learn self-defense and convinced led Raftery to join the Undisputed gym in Tucson. There Heather started training Thai boxing and jiu-jitsu, the latter with coach Josh Hinger — the person in charge of the grappling department at this academy. It was Josh who graded Raftery with her blue belt.

After two and a half years of training under Hinger’s guidance (exclusively no-gi), Heather moved to Denver, Colorado for graduate school where she joined the Kataro Jiu-Jitsu school, an affiliate of Relson Gracie. It was at Kataro, under the instruction of Steve Hordinski that Raftery started training with the gi while maintaining active in no-gi at another gym (Factory X) with black belt JJ Pugsley.

As a purple belt, Heather accepted a job offer in Miami and started training with Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu at the Fight Sports Academy. It was the former ADCC open weight champion who awarded Raftery her brown belt before Raftery decided to move to the West Coast, then joining the Atos Academy in San Diego, where she reunited with her former instructor, Josh Hinger, later receiving her black belt from the Atos team leader, André Galvão in June 2017.

Although often associated with the competitor lifestyle, Heather spent most of her jiu-jitsu career while working a full-time job, it was only once she decided to leave Miami (October 2015) that Heather purchased a 1970 VW camper van and traveled the country, training and competing. The van-life was somewhat put to rest in 2019 after Heather relocated to Tucson.

Heather Raftery Vs Christie Sullivan

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