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BJJ Fanatics Instructionals

Scott Cowboy, the First American Jiu Jitsu Competitor

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Craig Jones Instructionals

Recently we became aware through JJGF’s post “First American to Compete in a Jiu-Jitsu Tournament in Brazil” that this person was a former student of Rolls Gracie who went by the nickname ‘Cowboy’. BJJ Heroes reached out to a few of Rolls’ most famous students to enquire about this important American figure, forgotten by time.

In speaking to these former Gracie students we established that Cowboy was, in fact, his surname, full name Scott Cowboy, who was called by his Brazilian teammates simply as “Americano” (American). Scott Cowboy taught English at a language school in Rio de Janeiro with his sister and trained with Rolls during the 70’s era. According to Roll’s second black belt, Mario Tallarico:

He got very close to Rolls as he saw him almost like an American as well. – Mario Tallarico

(Editor note: Rolls spoke English very well and had spent long periods in the US).

Although it was unanimously said that Scott was not a gifted athlete, what he lacked in technical ability he made up in hard work, with all interviewees agreeing on Cowboy’s hard-working ethics and impeccable physical condition, Jacare Cavalcanti mentioned:

he must’ve been the first American competitor, he was a very friendly guy, always stayed behind after training to work on positions, I used to stay back with him doing chin ups push ups and stuff. He also liked running in the Copacabana beach, he’s physical conditioning was amazing. – Romero Cavalcanti

It was this mentality that earned Cowboy his brown belt by Rolls. Unfortunately, it seems as though Scott’s Jiu-Jitsu journey came to a halt at brown belt, with Rolls Gracie’s death on June 1983 due to a paragliding accident. Marcio Stambowsky remembers:

Scott took our Master’s death very badly and got deeply depressed, even started drinking for a while. He completely disappeared off the radar I haven’t heard from him since those days. – Macarrão  Stambowsky

Mr. Cowboy’s path in Jiu-Jitsu and life is a complete mystery since Master Roll Gracie’s passing. We hope he is alive and well, and if he ever reads this article, would be great to know more about this historical figure for the history of sporting Jiu-Jitsu.

Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations


  • paul turner says:

    was his name not conboy rather than cowboy,an extremely unlikely name for a american?rogers father who was there at the time posted this after the bjj heroes artical came out.

  • jay jay says:

    This just occurred to me since Rolls went back and forth from Brazil and America did he have other American students? Considering his mother was from Italy did he have students from there like cousins?

  • Rex says:

    Oh wow! This is Bitter-Sweet. Wherever you are, I pray that God Blesses you Mr. Cowboy. Brown belt from Rolls, is still Legit as ever!

  • jay jay says:

    I think a match of his with peixitonio is on youtube

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