2016 Hall of Fame Inductees
Royce Gracie was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is one of nine children, seven of whom are boys. His training in Jiu-Jitsu began at a very early age as a game with his father Helio. Royce began competing in tournaments at age eight. He received his blue belt at age 16 and was promoted to black belt in less than two years. Royce opened the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy 30 years ago in Torrance, California. Royce’s exciting career as a fighter began in 1993 after defeating three opponents in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship in Denver, Colorado. His brother Rorion came up with this innovative challenge as a way to show Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to the world. Discipline after discipline was defeated by the slight 6’1”, 180 pound Royce Gracie.
Johnny Bench was born in Oklahoma with a childhood dream to become a major league baseball player. He was selected and signed in the 1965 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds. After two seasons in the minors, Bench made Cincinnati’s Major League roster for the 1968 season. This marked the beginning of one of the most successful careers in baseball history.
Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January 1989, Bench is considered “Baseball’s Greatest Catcher” and was named the starter behind the plate of the All-Century Team. His successes include National League Rookie of the Year (1968), National League Most Valuable Player (1970, 72), back-to-back World Series Championships with the Big Red Machine (1975, 76), World Series MVP (1976), 14-time All-Star, and 10 Gold Gloves. In 1980, Bench set an endurance record by catching 100 or more games for 13 consecutive seasons.
AnnMaria DeMars is an American technology executive, author and World Champion Judoka. She is the first American to take home Gold at the World Judo Championships, competing in the -56 kg weight class, for the 1984 World Judo Tournament. DeMars is the Chief Executive Officer of 7 Generation Games and The Julia Group, as well as a Statistical Consultant and Native American Activist, having authored grants for various Native American programs. Before she launched 7 Generation Games as its CEO, De Mars was Vice President of Spirit Lake Consulting Inc., a Tribal Institute based on the Spirit Lake Tribe Indian Reservation and was actively involved in the Tribe’s Education and Vocational Rehabilitation programs. In 2013, DeMars was named in Forbes ’ annual list of the “40 Women to Watch Over 40” recognizing the accomplishments and backgrounds of women who are making major professional contributions after the age of 40, in the fields of Innovation and Disruption.
Kurt Angle is an American Olympic Gold Medalist wrestler, and actor. While at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, he won numerous accolades, including being a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. After graduating college, Angle won a Gold Medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1995 World Wrestling Championships. He then won a freestyle wrestling Gold Medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Angle is one of only four people to complete an amateur wrestling Grand Slam (Junior Nationals, NCAA, World Championships, Olympics). In 2006, he was named the greatest shoot wrestler ever and one of the top 15 college wrestlers of all time by USA Wrestling.
Ronnie Coleman was born in Bastrop, Louisiana and graduated Cum Laude from Grambling State University (GSU) in 1984. While at university, he played football as a middle linebacker with the GSU Tigers under coach Eddie Robinson. Ronnie won the Mr. Texas and First place in both the heavyweight and overall categories. Ronnie then won his first competition as a professional, the Canada Pro Cup, in 1995. The following year, he won the contest again, followed by a first place win in the 1997 Russian Grand Prix.