The Man Raising Royce’s Hand: Helio Vigio, A Dangerous BJJ Red Belt

The Man Raising Royce’s Hand: Helio Vigio, A Dangerous BJJ Red Belt

You know that famous picture of Royce Gracie, where his hand is raised at UFC 1? Yes, the one you can see above.

Well, do you know who the man raising Royce’s hand is? And did you know that he had quite a… Thrilling story behind him?
Yup, that’s right. That’s Helio Vigio. And he was not to be messed with.

The History Of BJJ page shared the story of Vigio:

Helio began training at the Gracie Academy in the 1940’s and was a peer of Carlson, Pedro Hemeterio and João Alberto Barreto.

He would become an instructor in the 1950’s and fight in numerous Vale Tudo and grappling matches to defend the name of the academy.

Helio Vigio would go on to be promoted to Red Belt by Helio Gracie and would ultimately pass away in 2016 at 82 years old.

But why was Helio Vigio so dangerous? Well, the answer might surprise you:

Helio was a police officer for many decades up until the 1990’s. He was not your average, run of the mill police officer.

Helio Vigio was part of a Death Squad of Rio police that took the law into their own hands and dealt with criminals, in shall we say, a permanent way.

I remember one Gracie telling a story, I will need to confirm which, who used to get a ride to the academy in Helio’s van.
They knew to never look in the back of the van as there were likely to be dead bodies there.

Vigio’s attitude and experience were the reasons why he was asked to referee a number of important matches:

He was an official at the Royce vs Wallid Oscar de Jiu-Jitsu 2 event, UFC 1 and the famous 1984 Vale Tudo fight between Flávio Molina and Marcelo Behring.

With Molina taking a bad beating, his corner threw in the towel. Helio grabbed the towel, wiped the sweat from his brow, threw the towel back outside the ring, waited a little while and then stopped the fight.


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