Royce Gracie was selected to represent his family's version of Jiu-Jitsu in the first few UFCs because he looked far less athletic than for example his brother Rickson. Rickson too would have beaten everyone at UFC 1, but it would not have had the same effect on the world.
When a muscular ferocious fighter wins, the assumption is that he won because he he was ferocious and muscular. When the 170 lb Royce dominated UFC 1, it was clear that there was something world changing in his technique.
It was thus ironic that Royce was selected as one of the top 50 greatest athletes of all time. Royce came in at #44, in a field that included Roger Federer, Mia Hamm, Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, Serena Williams, and Tiger Woods.
However, there is more to being a great athlete than being athletic. There is leadership, and heart and courage, and seeing the future and then making it, and in all these regards, Royce is an extraordinary choice.
The list was generated by a panel of experts organized by Beckett Media. The 50 Greatest Athletes of All Time is available online and on newsstands through mid-January, nationwide and in Canada, at Target, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, CVS, supermarkets, airports and wherever sports magazines are sold.
"I am honored to make sports illustrated top 50 athletes of all time list," sair Royce. "I don't get excited about many things but this is something that humbles me."
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