John Danaher says "[Roger] Gracie was unquestionably the greatest Jiu Jitsu competitor of all time" and Gracie was as well an MMA fighter, going 8-2 for a decade, winning the ONE Championship Light Heavyweight (225) world championship, and retiring from the sport on a two-fight win streak in 2017. Now 38, Gracie is among the 2,000,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide; the real number of cases is unknown, as testing lags in most of the world.
In a recent interview with Marcelo Barone for Combate, Gracie detailed what it was like. Now recovered, Gracie said he first began to feel the effects last month, and it lasted for ten days. At the worst of it, he even stepped into an ambulance.
"I got the virus, I recovered two weeks ago," he began, via Google Translate. "I was really bad in bed. It is good to speak, because many people have no idea exactly what it is, they think they will not be affected, that it will never reach them. I stayed in bed for ten days, with [104 Fahrenheit] degrees of fever and cough. I felt short of breath one day, thankfully it didn't progress. I woke up at dawn with my racing heart, short of breath. I called the ambulance, even got into it. They did the tests, called the chief of medicine and thought it best for me to stay home.
"I was scared when it didn't get better. On the eighth day I was worried, because I thought I was getting better, the fever went down. The next day, it came back violent, I felt very weak, strange. Each person feels different. Most have a cold. My girlfriend also had it, stayed four days with [100-102] degrees of fever, weak, with body pain and passed. My fever was  degrees. I coughed all the time, what destroys is the fever, which goes up there.
"It's good for people to know that I got it. I talked to a lot of friends who thought I wouldn't get it because I was healthy, young. A lot of people are dying. A friend of a friend in Italy was a marathon runner, was 35 years old and died. My teacher's girlfriend's cousin is 30 years old and is hospitalized. And there are thousands that we don't know. It is necessary to raise awareness. The disease really affects the most fragile, the oldest, but also other people. You cannot neglect. It's not a joke"
Gracie is now sheltered in place at home with his two children, who show no symptoms. He hasn't trained in a month, the longest break since he got serious about Jiu-Jitsu in his late teens. He closed his academy in London a month ago, only doing teleteaching, and is determined to continue paying his staff.
"I have 22 people working for me at the gym, counting all employees, teachers, receptionists," he said. "We transferred to the online so it's been working like this since it closed. If everyone cancels the monthly fee, there are 22 people without support. It is difficult, but I will continue to pay employees. It is a duty to them, who depend on it to survive. I can't let you down. Most of the students stayed, but many left, which is understandable, because many people are losing their jobs.
"It is a situation that no one has ever seen, no one has ever witnessed what is happening now. Not only us with the academy, but commerce in general, business, the economy ... Everyone will suffer, even when everything is reopened. If things remain closed, it will be a global crisis, because a lot of people depend on trade."
Gracie is now retired, and his focus is on business - growing his academy.
"I'm 100% retired," he said. "Since I stopped fighting, my has changed. I have been training twice a week for more than a year, even once, I travel a lot. I have more than 50 franchises in my academy, which occupies me a lot. The gym here has grown a lot. It is different to have 200 students and have a thousand students. There are 22 employees, it is a meeting almost every day. I chose that. I want to set up several of my own gyms, grow this part of the business. You can't do that and want to become an athlete. Fighting is no longer viable, either MMA or jiu-jitsu.
"I'm enjoying it, they are different challenges. I knew this was going to happen even before I retired. It's natural, you can't be an athlete forever. I never saw myself fighting in the Masters divison. I did my best when I was at my peak. In a year and a half I am 40 years old, I cannot think that I will be the same as I was at 25, 30 years old. It is an illusion. You have to accept the limitations and go to the next stage. The mistake is to think that you can be an athlete forever."