Peter Letsos, or “Pete The Greek” as he is commonly known, is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Carlon Gracie Junior, having competed in the sport all over the world, including in the historical Copa Atlantica, Brazilian Teams Nationals, the Pan American and the Gracie Invitational (Arnold Classic). “The Greek” is also the founder of Rio Jiu Jitsu, a grappling club in the Chicago area (US).
Pete the Greek Jiu Jitsu
Full Name: Peter Panayotis Letsos
Nickname: “Pete The Greek” came about in Letsos’s early jiu jitsu days, because the Brazilians had some difficulty pronouncing his last name. As they knew he was of Greek descent, they started calling him Pete the Greek.
- Gracie Invitational Champion (2001 weight & absolute purple)
- Sao Paulo State Trials Champion (2002 purple)
- Relson Gracie Open Champion (2003 purple)
- Pan American 3rd Place (1999 & 2000 blue, 2003 absolute purple)
- Copa Atlantica 3rd Place (2003 purple)
Weight Division: Competed at Lightweight & Middleweight
Favourite Position: Guard Pass
Team/Association: Rio JJ (Carlson Gracie)
Pete The Greek Letsos Biography
Peter Letsos was born on the 31st of December 1979, in Chicago – United States of America. He found Jiu Jitsu like many other fighters of his generation, after watching the early UFC’s and the domination displayed by Royce Gracie in the first editions of the event. He decided to join Carlson Gracie Junior’s academy in 1996/97, Carlson was the son of the grappling legend Carlson Gracie (Senior) and grandson to Carlos Gracie, founder of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu academy.
In 2002 after several years training with the Carlson Gracie academy in Chicago, Pete decided to make a trip to Brazil and train at the headquarters there. Sadly, he arrived at the team’s most troubled period, the time when many of its black belts split from the academy to form BTT (Brazilian Top Team). As the Jiu Jitsu team was scarce at the time there, Pete decided to train a few times with their MMA team, which had in it’s roster Jorge “Navalhada”, Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante, Luiz Firmino “Buscapé” and many others. Making the most of his time in Rio de Janeiro, Pete also took the opportunity to have private lessons with another legendary figure, Mr Cassio Cardoso.
The 3 week journey that Letsos intended to have ended up being prolonged and before he knew it, 4 years had passed in which Letsos trained amongst some of the best competitors of the 1990’s and 2000’s, including the famous Gracie Barra team with whom he trained and competed for. Pete The Greek’s guard passing game was well respected, this allowed him a spot at the Gracie Barra Team, at the Brazilian National Teams tournament when he was a purple belt (2002).
The Greek also spent some time with master Osvaldo Alves, and as his money ran out, Pete lived in Alves’s gym, cleaning the mats to pay for his tuition. After that he spent a few months living in Sao Paulo at Andre Galvão‘s house and training with Terere at the extinct “TT” academy, one of the strongest of the decade.
He returned to the “Windy City” where he earned his brown belt from Carlson Gracie Jr. He was also invited by world champion and MMA fighter BJ Penn and spent time at his gym in Hawaii. In 2006 Pete the Greek received his black belt, again from his instructor Carlson Junior, a year later he opened his own academy Rio Jiu Jitsu.