Gracies Hope to Land Reality Show on New Oprah Channel

By John Chandler May 26, 2010
Taking the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to new heights is nothing new for the Gracies. Nearly 17 years after bringing their talents to the masses through the UFC, MMA’s first family is hoping to conquer a new outlet that could increase their exposure even further.

Rener Gracie and his siblings, children of UFC co-founder Rorion Gracie, are spearheading efforts to start a reality television show on the debuting Oprah Winfrey Network, scheduled to start airing programming in January 2011. The concept of the show will revolve around “bullyproofing,” the Gracie family’s attempt to curb the epidemic of bullying involving children and teenagers around the world, and an issue that Winfrey herself has focused on heavily in the past.

“We came up with the idea about a year ago,” Rener Gracie told Sherdog.com. “We’ve had kids coming to our academy that have been tormented by bullies. They’ve been afraid to go to school. Some have even been suicidal. Training them (in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) and working with them helped build their confidence and it has basically inspired us to want to do something on a much larger scale.”

If the show comes to fruition, Rener envisions a camp-like atmosphere at the Gracie Academy in Torrance, Calif., that will have kids learn self defense through jiu-jitsu all while having their self-esteem built up through a variety of activities inspired by the "Big Brother" program.

“The plan is to reach out to these kids and take them under our wings,” Gracie said. “We want to teach them how to defend themselves, but more importantly, we want to build up their confidence and give them the motivation to want to go to school. Bullying is one of the top factors behind suicide in young kids. They don’t need to be the victims anymore. We want to find those who are on the borderline and bring them back. Let’s show them that there is hope and that they have a bright future.”

Support from MMA enthusiasts and interested voters alike has resulted in nearly 1 million votes for the Gracie’s idea already. Voting for the contest, which is unlimited, is set to continue through July 3. Those interested in watching and voting for the Gracie’s idea can watch Rener’s audition tape at the OWN’s official website.

“If you’re watching TV, vote. If you’re eating dinner, vote. Please lend us your support,” Gracie said. “The outpouring of support so far has been nothing short of amazing. If this happens, it’s going to be another shot in the arm for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It was my grandfather Helio’s dream to empower the weak and my family would love nothing more than to continue to make that a reality. We’ve achieved the mount so far with this contest. Now let’s go for the submission.”

To vote for the Gracies’ “Bullyproof” show, go to the Oprah Winfrey Network site.
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