Fabio Clemente is an historical figure for jiu jitsu in New York (Manhattan), having opened one of the very first BJJ academies in the region, a team that has run successfully since the mid 1990’s. Fabio Clemente earned his black belt under Rigan Machado, and was a member of the Machado Association before he joined the Alliance team in the late 1990’s; He was also responsible for bringing Marcelo Garcia to the US.
1990s Jiu Jitsu
Nelson Monteiro is a jiu jitsu black belt under Carlos Gracie Junior and one of the coaches in the illustrious Gracie Barra academy. One of the first BJJ black belts from Gracie Barra to open a school in the United States, Monteiro was also connected with the birth of the ADCC, the world’s most established biggest submission wrestling tournament (Abu Dhabi Combat Club).
José Leão Teixeira or “Zé Beleza”, as he is often named within the BJJ community, is one of the founding members of the Gracie Barra academy and an important figure in jiu jitsu’s history. A former member of the epic grappling team built by Rolls Gracie, José Leão Teixeira founded the Leão Teixeira Jiu Jitsu School, one of the top kids BJJ academies in Brazil. Jose Teixeira was also involved in creation of CBJJ/IBJJF.
One of the hottest prospects of jiu jitsu in at the turn of the millennium, Thiago Fernandes was a jiu jitsu and submission wrestling competitor with an incredible future ahead before a hideous car crash took his life in 2001. Originally from the Oriente academy in Niteroi, Thiago Fernandes moved to Nova Uniao as a teenager where he developed into one of the best grapplers in the country through wins over well established black belts at the age of 17.
Wagnney Fabiano is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Wendell Alexander who turned into a professional MMA fighter in the early 2000’s, becoming the IFL (International Fight League) Featherweight Champion. A very successful BJJ competitor in the 1990’s, Fabiano conquered several important trophies such as the Brazilian National Championship and the National Teams tournament. Wagnney Fabiano is also the older brother of the famous 4x BJJ World Cup Champion Leo Santos.
One of the biggest names for jiu jitsu in Santa Cruz – California, Claudio Franca is a pioneer for BJJ in the United States, and one of the first instructors to open an academy on American soil. A Francisco Mansor black belt (5th degree), Claudio Franca has greatly developed jiu jitsu in the USA through his academy and also by organizing and promoting the important US Open tournament.
One of the best jiu jitsu competitors of the 1980’s & 1990s, Crezio de Souza competed for the Carlson Gracie Team in BJJ and MMA he was also part of Brazil’s wrestling team for the Havana Pan American Games (1991) and qualified for the Olympics in Barcelona (1992). A true legend of the sport, the man from Petropolis also medalled in the Brazilian BJJ nationals in 2002 at the age of 40, being the first man to do so in the adult division.
Rogerio Poggio is a renowned 4th degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Master Tolita “Pitoco” Jordan, who is one of the founders of the famous Infight jiu jitsu team. Poggio has also led a successful competitive career with wins at tournaments such as the Mundial, the South American championships and the Brazilian nationals.
An important figure in the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mr Craig Kukuk is widely recognized as the very first American born black belt in the sport, having learned directly from the Gracie family through Rorion Gracie and later Royler Gracie who awarded Kukuk his black belt.
With affiliated academies all around the world, Equipe Fabricio has become one of the most well represented teams in BJJ today. The team’s leader, Fabricio Martins is a black belt from the Osvaldo Alves academy in Rio de Janeiro, Martins has managed to produce very strong talent and is highly requested for seminars around the world due to his coaching prowess.
Rigan Machado is a legendary BJJ figure and one of the most feared Jiu Jitsu competitors of the 1980’s. Rigan was the first black belt of Carlos Gracie Junior and the founder of Machado Jiu Jitsu, one of the most prosperous grappling academies in the USA.
Jair Lourenço is one of the top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA coaches in the world, having brought to the limelight a legion of incredible fighters such Renan Barão, Michele Tavares, Jussier “Formiga”, Marcelo “Caneta”, Ronny Markes, Claudia Gadelha, Gleison Tibau to name a few, helping to put the northeast region of Brazil on the BJJ map.
Ralph Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Carlos Gracie Junior (his cousin) and the brother of Renzo Gracie, he was an accomplished Vale Tudo, MMA and Jiu Jitsi fighter in the 1980s & 1990s later becoming also a successful coach from his academy in San Francisco, CA.
Daniel Gracie is a Renzo Gracie Team representative and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Carlinhos Gracie. Daniel is an ADCC veteran that managed to reach the highest stage of BJJ in the mid 1990’s, medalling in all of the most important tournaments in the world, a standard he managed to keep for many years and carry into his MMA career where he competed at the highest level in tournaments such as the Pride FC and Bellator FC.
One of the founding members of the Brazilian Top Team academy, Bebeo Duarte is also a highly decorated black belt in Jiu Jitsu, having won important tournaments such as the Mundial (World BJJ Championships) and the Pan American. This Carlson Gracie black belt is also a manager for many important MMA fighters, such as Alexandre “Cacareco”.
José Olimpio, mostly known as “Zé Radiola”, is a former professional surfer who became a pioneer for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. A black belt in BJJ under Carlos Gracie Junior, Ze Radiola founded the Gracie Barra Pernambuco academy, and formed many champions through that gym.
Antonio de Melo is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Masters Robson Gracie and Geraldo Gonçalves Flores who is currently part of the Brazil 021 team, a team led by the legendary Hanette Staack, Andre Terencio and Carlos Henrique. Melo has been a BJJ black belt since 1993, having medalled in important tournaments such as the LINJJI and the International Masters & Seniors IBJJF competition.
The very first king of the lightweight division (crowned by winning the first World Jiu Jitsu Championship in 1996), Renato Barreto was part of a Gracie Humaita generation teaming with talent, with fighters such as Royler Gracie, Wellington Megaton, Paulo Barroso and many others.
Often (wrongly) regarded as the first woman black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Patricia Lage is a highly decorated BJJ practitioner with over 30 years experience in the sport and titles in the Brazilian Nationals and the World Cup. Patricia is also the daughter of 8th degree black belt Roberto Lage, an illustrious figure in Sao Paulo’s Jiu Jitsu landscape.
Roberto Traven was one of the top jiu jitsu practitioners at turn of the millennium. A black belt under Romero “Jacaré” Cavalcanti, Traven conquered some of the most prestigious tournaments of his time such as the Brazilian Nationals, the Mundial and the ADCC. Roberto has also had a relevant career as a coach having taught alongside Muzio de Angelis in Rio de Janeiro, moving to the USA at a later stage to coach and compete in MMA.