Last month, The Sacramento Bee reported that Manny Ray Gonzales — an instructor at a Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu affiliate in Natomas, California — had used a racial slur in a threatening voicemail to the Black father of a former student.
The man who received the voicemail, Dominique Brandon, told the Sacramento Bee that his daughter had trained under Gonzales for years. He says the conflict began when his daughter started training at another BJJ academy and subsequently defeated Gonzales’ students in competition. When a mutual friend of Brandon and Gonzales posted about Brandon’s daughter on Facebook praising her skills on the mats, Brandon says he began receiving text messages from Gonzales challenging him to a fight.
Then, in December of last year, Gonzales left Brandon a voicemail (shared in the original article from the Sacramento Bee) calling Brandon the n-word.
“I’m over here at the gym and I don’t see you. If you really want it, you know where to find it you dumb f****** n—–.”
The voicemail was shared on social media, where it sparked outrage within and beyond the BJJ community. The Sacramento Bee contacted Gonzales by phone, at which point he reportedly admitted to leaving the voicemail and said, “This is being taken out of context. I’m going to hire a lawyer. Please don’t write about this.”
At the beginning of January, Gonzales posted and then deleted an apology on social media:
Due to an unfortunate series of events that escalated between myself and another individual, it has come to my attention that I have to address some problems that have caused issues on and off for a while.
I never imagined that it would take a situation like this to address this, but this is not me.
Rather than address things point by point, I’ll say this: I haven’t been myself recently and it really came out front and center the other day. I stepped way out of my character and made a racial slur that I deeply regret and apologize for.
I apologize but I need to address these issues head on privately with my friends and family for at least the next month. The gym will be in good hands while I’m away and I will return better and stronger than ever.
Please don’t look at this as indicative as who I am as a person. If you know me, you know that simply isn’t me. If you don’t know me, know that I can and will do better.
See you soon.“
In response to the report from the Sacramento Bee, the Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu association released a statement, which reads as follows:
“On behalf of Ralph Gracie and all related schools and affiliates, the purpose of this communication is to directly address the Manny Ray Gonzalez incident which took place at an associate gym of Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, located in Natomas, CA. The Sacramento Bee recently reported that Manny Ray Gonzalez, an academy instructor acting under his personal capacity, used racist and hateful language to antagonize and intimidate another practitioner and former member of his gym, stemming from personal situations between the gentlemen. Gonzalez used a horrible word specifically meant to demean, debase, and devalue this gentleman’s African-American ancestry.
We are duly outraged by, and affirmatively rebuke Gonzalez’s inexcusable personal conduct for which we have zero-tolerance. More concretely, we are currently taking measures to deal with Gonzalez and his future affiliation with us. Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and all its affiliate schools are committed to providing inclusive training environments and safe-spaces with respect to racial insensitivity and any form of discrimination.
Most of all, our most sincere apologies go to the family of this martial artist. We also want to apologize to all Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, members of Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and to the broader Sacramento community. Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is proud to include and welcome African-American, female, and many other diverse instructors and members. We encourage you to visit one of our local training facilities and begin your Covid-compliant jiu-jitsu training program. Please contact us at https://www.ralphgracie.com/.
Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Affiliates”
Ralph Gracie himself recently began a six-month sentence in jail — the result of his assault on Flavio Almeida at IBJJF No-Gi Worlds in 2018.