Hawaiian-born mixed-martial arts fighter B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn was the first non-Brazilian to win the black-belt division of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in 2000.
Born December 13, 1978, B.J. Penn began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 1997 under Ralph Gracie. The Prodigy then moved to Rio de Janeiro to attend Nova Uniao, where he received his BJJ black belt from Andre Pederneiras. Several weeks after winning the WJJC, B.J. Penn joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In 2004, he became the UFC welterweight champion by defeating Matt Hughes at UFC 46. Upon defeating Joe Stevenson for the lightweight championship at UFC 80 (2008), B.J. Penn became the second MMA fighter to win UFC titles in two weight divisions. According to The Prodigy, once you start fighting, it’s hard to stop.
– May 31, 2011