At the end of every year, I like to reflect deeply on the year and write down key learnings. Some…
Renzo Gracie: My Brother From Another Mother
I first stepped into the blue basement of the legendary Renzo Gracie Academy in early 2005 when I lived in NYC. After more than 15 years of friendship, I can tell you that Renzo Gracie is one of the most extraordinary human beings I have ever met. To this day, we speak almost every week. He has the biggest heart of gold of any person I know. I can tell you countless stories of Renzo giving to others with no expectation of anything in return, be it to a beggar on the street, a friend in need, a new white belt, or a total stranger. He embraces everyone and has friends from all walks of life. He loves people, irrespective of race, religion, social status, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, etc. In fact, his close friends represent the diversity of our planet along those dimensions. Renzo is the definition of the human spirit born free. On a personal level, I can also tell you that I will spend the rest of my life to repay his kindness to me, and it will still never be enough. (Without Master Renzo and Kru Yodtong, ONE Championship would never have been born. They both inspired me to chase my dreams.) We might not always agree on everything, but Renzo is truly a brother from another mother. We always joke that the Earth only spins on its axis because we are on opposite sides of the planet, pushing it with our fire and passion for our beloved martial arts community.
Of course, Renzo has his flaws like all of us. He has a temper. He makes mistakes. He says and does things in the heat of the moment. Fundamentally though, I can tell you without equivocation that Renzo is a wonderful human being. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He is 100% real and authentic with no agenda. He lives the warrior way of life and by the core values of martial arts. The Renzo that you see is the Renzo that you get. He doesn’t plan out his life. He doesn’t care about money, material things, or prestige. He doesn’t care what people think. He lives his life for every moment with honesty, passion, and loyalty to his loved ones, friends, students, and fans. Without a doubt, Renzo has done 1000x more good in this world than he has done bad. He is a legend, a warrior, and a pioneer. In his prime, Renzo was by far the most aggressive, well-rounded Gracie. I would argue that he has always been the most dangerous lion of the Gracie Family in the fight game. He had KO power in his hands and he kicked like a horse. Of course, his grappling was next level. Above all though, Renzo is someone who inspires all of us to dream more, do more, and be more in life through his love, passion, generosity, honesty, and kindness.
For every hater, Renzo has millions of fans who stand by him. For every enemy, he has an entire army of friends who would jump into a street fight alongside him (myself included). I always prefer peace, but I would go to war for my brother Renzo any day of the week. OSSS!!! #WeAreONE #TeamRenzo #RGAForLife
Chatri Sityodtong is a self-made entrepreneur and lifelong martial artist from Thailand. His rags-to-riches life story has inspired millions around the world on BBC News, CNN, Financial Times, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Channel NewsAsia, and other major media. He is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of ONE Championship, Asia’s largest global sports media property in history with a global broadcast to over 150+ countries around the world. He is also the star of the Asian edition of The Apprentice, the award-winning, global reality TV series. Sityodtong was named “Asia’s King of Martial Arts” by the Financial Times and was ranked the “2nd Most Powerful Person in Sports in Asia” by FOX Sports. Sityodtong was also selected as one of “Asia’s Top 100 Business Leaders” by Business Insider. He is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD, Europe’s top business school. Inducted recently into the Black Belt Hall of Fame, Sityodtong is a Kru in Muay Thai under Yodtong Senanan and a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Renzo Gracie. Sityodtong holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Tufts University.