Extra Point

By Mike Fitzgerald

Friday, October 11, 1996

Baddest man in
the whole damned town

HE is badder than Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.

Mike Tyson? Take a seat, sonny. You don't want to mess with this guy.

You think George Foreman's record of 74-4 is impressive? That's hardly breaking a sweat compared to this man's mark.

Riddick Bowe? Ho-ho-ho.

Carlson Gracie said he has a record of 500-0, give or take a victory. No, not 5-0 or 50-0. Five hundred wins and zero defeats as a fighter.

I interviewed Mister Gracie at 24 Hour Fitness, which held a press conference yesterday for tonight's X-Treme Fighting Super Brawl II at Blaisdell Arena.

Was I nervous? Nah. But the lettuce in my salad immediately wilted when Gracie glanced at it. And my notes look like a seismograph reading since my hands were shaking so much.

So how old are you, Mr. Gracie?

"I am the age that I look like," he said through an interpreter.

Then he laughed as I glanced around for the nearest exit.

I would guess that Gracie is in his 50s, although he can be any age that he wants to be. He said he quit fighting 18 years ago, ending a career that started at the age of 15.

"I never lost a fight," he said. "A lot of people came to Brazil to fight me because of my reputation."

And they likely left the country with their arms or legs pointing in different directions than when they arrived.

I could picture the scene at the airport departure gate:

"Excuse me, sir, but it looks like your head has been twisted 180 degrees. At least no one will sneak up on you now."

GRACIE is the trainer and father figure for Victor Gracie, who will take on John Hess in the main event. Technically, the younger Gracie is not his son, but he fights using his name as a tribute to the man who has helped him since he was 8 years old.

"He's the toughest I ever saw, as a teacher and a fighter," Victor Gracie said.

The elder Gracie said his father was a South American boxing champion and taught him how to fight. He said that the art of Jiu-Jitsu was the key to his unbeatable style.

"I also go to sleep early and wake up early," he said. "I eat natural foods and no alcohol."

Whew. Thank goodness he doesn't drink booze. It might take the whole Honolulu police force to subdue this guy if he drank too much tequila and decided to clear out a few taverns.

So who did he fight while piling up such an awesome record?

"I always fought gnarly guys, hard guys," he said, his face showing anger - as I suddenly embraced religion. "If they fought today, they would be victors."

Against everyone except him, of course.

The toughest men in the world don't come to Brazil to try to beat Gracie anymore. This generation of ultimate fighters is much smarter. They come for his advice - and they leave in one piece.

WHAT does he say to the critics who feel that ultimate fighting is too violent?

"You have a judge right there who can stop the fight, plus you can tap out (give up)," he said, with a shrug. "Nobody ever gets hurt real bad."

Real bad?

He said there is one big difference between the fighters today than in the past.

"The (fighting) style was the same but now there is the media (attention)," he said. "Now there is a lot of money. I missed out on a lot of money."

Hey, who needs cash when you can tell people that you have a 500-0 fighting record?

Man, if I could just bring this guy back to Chicago with me for a week, I could retire from the side bets. Bikers, mobsters, bar brawlers - we'd take all comers.

So my good friend Carlson Gracie, I mean Mister Gracie, will be at ringside tonight.

You could probably say hello and shake his hand, with a fair chance of retaining all five fingers.

But don't go asking his age.

Mike Fitzgerald's commentary appears every
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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