Helio vs. Kato
At the age of 17, Helio (pronounced Eh’leeo) first stepped into
the ring in Brazil to face a boxer named Antonio Portugal. Helio
won in 30 seconds.
Helio was the first Jiu-Jitsu master in the western world
to fight a Japanese Jiu-Jitsu master: Namiki in 1932. This
was the first time he wore a gi during a fight. The fight ended
in a draw, giving Helio his first credit as a Jiu-Jitsu master
Another amazing performance of Helio was his brilliant fight against
Kato, world Jiu-Jitsu vice-champion, at Maracana Stadium
which seats 120,000 people. The fight ended in a draw and Helio
asked for a rematch. The second match, held in Ibirapuera Stadium
in Sao Paulo, was a very technical fight. Helio defeated Kato with
a choke hold. His victory brought glory to Brazil and international
recognition to Helio.
Upon defeating Kato, a challenge match was set between Helio and
the world Japanese champion, Masahiko Kimura, probably the best
fighter that Japan has ever produced. This historical match took
place in 1951 and was held in the Maracana Stadium. At this time,
Helio was 42 years old and weighed 63kg, and his opponent Kimura
was 10 years younger than Helio and weighed 100kg. The 40kg lighter
Helio lost after his brother Carlos threw in the towel.
Throughout his life Helio has had the opportunity to fight many
great fighters including two other well known Japanese Jiu-Jitsu
masters Ono and Massagoishi.
Helio holds the world record for the longest fight ever: three
hours and forty minutes non-stop, with his student Valdemar Santana.
Helio also challenged boxing greats Primo Carnera and Ezzard Charles,
as well as world champion Joe Louis to matches to compare styles.p
They all declined.
An example of courage and determination, Helio became a national
hero in Brazil. After a lifetime of Jiu-Jitsu, today at 89,
he still teaches the art and has the same determination to live
Jiu-Jitsu as his lifestyle. He is recognized as the creator
of what is today known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
Copyright © 2003 Rickson