The history of Luta Livre and Vale Tudo in Brazil. Part VI

Copyright (2014) by Sportscientist Maciel Welko & Elton Silva. Unauthorized use, reproduction, translation, modification, distribution or duplication, in whole or in part of this article and its content is strictly prohibited. But you are invited and allowed to share the link of this article. Acknowledgments: In addition to the main authors Maciel Welko, R. & Silva E.; the following person Figueira, F.; Hatem, V.; Hull-Styles, M.; Manholi, M.; Milfont, C. have helped and supported us for this articles series. The article series also appear in Brazil..

Euclydes Hatem’s Centenary

Preliminary notes: Much of the history of “Luta Livre” in Brazil is anecdotal and there is no proof of evidence. Systematic research done by Sportscientist and Luta Livre Black Belt "Nico" M. Welko in collaboration with E. Silva, shows a more credible description of the historical development of “Luta Livre” in Brazil. This publication is a summary from more than 9000 collected and evaluated written records* under the standards of scientific research. The references, as longer and more detailed versions, will be addressed in the books of the Authors to be published soon: "Catch; the root of Luta Livre in Brazil" and "Teaching and learning Luta Livre"...

Some highlights from the fighting career of Mestre Euclydes "Tatú" Hatem. -Second Part-

In 1941 "Mestre Tatu" travelled to São Paulo, where he fought with varying results. During this time he was also active in training other fighters.

Together with another Brazilian, they participated in the ongoing "Catch-as-Catch-Can" seasons, where "Mestre Tatu" was viewed as the favorite between them both. The tournaments were contested by very strong and experienced competitors from abroad. Newspaper articles published the records and "curriculum vitae" (CV) of the fighters. Presented were:

- Richard Schikat, German champion of 1932 and 1933, World Champion of 1926, 1929, 1937 with over 3000 disputed fights, of which 1800 were won. He defeated notable fighters such Ed ‘Strangler’ Lewis, Jim Londos, Wladeck Zybyszko, Stanislav Zybyzsko, Jim Browning, Bobby Bruns, Everette Marshal, Ed Stiwn, Rudy Dusek, Gino Garibaldi, Jim Maloney, Don Kolov and Dagiane.

- Tom Hanley, American, 28 years old and 148 Kilos, a professional ‘catch-as-catch-can’ fighter for over five years.

- Henry Piers, Dutch; 114 kilos; 6 years as a professional fighter; defeated world champions such as Lou Thesz and Ed “Don” George.

- Kola Kwariani, from Belarus; 37 years; weighed over 100 Kilos and fought since he was 15, defeated the famous world champion Ivan Poddubny.

The sports media evaluated the participation of "Mestre Tatu" in this tournament as a very difficult challenge for him. "Tatu", however, appeared in good shape and won all of his fights until he met the Italian Francisco Marconi. He lost the fight after 12 minutes then went on to be victorius in later fights. Fighting at a weight of 95 kilos, "Mestre Tatu" also registered three tied matches; against 114kg Dutchman Harry Piers, the "White Russian" Kwariani and the Frenchman Ulsemmer in a very exciting fight. He suffered another defeat by shoulder pinning (3 sec. Rule) against the German Richard Schikat, who was the tournament’s favorite. He also lost by shoulder pinning against the Frenchman Ulsemmer just before the end of the fight and against the American Tom Hanley. The performance of "Mestre Tatu" against the foreign fighters was described by journalists as worthy of recognition and praise. In this tournament, matches were fought under the "United States Wrestling Association Rules". These rules did not allow strangulation; the real strength of "Mestre Tatu" and some fighters were disqualified in these tournaments because of the use of strangulation.

In 1942 " Mestre Tatu" travelled back to Porto Alegre to answer the public challenge made by George Gracie. In addition to his Jiu-Jitsu Career, George Gracie learned Luta Livre from well-known fighters in this era including Orlando Americo da Silva "Dudú", a former trainer of " Mestre Tatu". There is further reason to suspect that George Gracie had also learned Luta Livre from "Mestre Tatu", however clear historical evidence is still currently lacking. George Gracie was also known for his in depth Luta Livre knowledge and participated in many Luta Livre (Catch-as-Catch-Can) Championships. He was very successful and even managed to be Brazilian champion in this discipline.

With the arrival of "Mestre Tatu" in Porto Alegre, the media tried to "throw oil in the fire" and reported almost daily about the challenge and the possible fight between George Gracie and "Mestre Tatu". After long negotiations, provocations in the newspapers and even police intervention, the coveted date to fight for the Brazilian Luta Livre title was set.

"Mestre Tatu" was the favorite for the title and went on to dominate George Gracie over the entire course of the fight, forcing him to quit in the third round. The technical superiority of "Mestre Tatu" over George Gracie was so clear that managers and sports journalists alike excluded the realistic possibility of a rematch.

Approximate translation: „Sensational picture of yesterday’s fight that shows Tatu at the moment when he applies an Armlock on Gracie" Source: Hatem, V.; Private archives.

In 1943 "Mestre Tatu" travelled to Buenos Aires, where he fought for a time and maintained unbeaten until his return to Brazil.

In 1947 the rematch against the Japanese judoka Takeo Yano took place. “Mestre Tatu” defeated Yano for the second time with a choke.

In the same year, “Mestre Tatu” was scheduled to fight against the 142 kg Russian Leon Falkenstein, who was known as "Homem Montanha" (ENG "Man Mountain") and had already defeated many foreign fighters. Prior to the prestigious fight Falkenstein allegedly contacted "Mestre Tatu" and suggested the Brazilian to lose, so a rematch could be organized. He allegedly offered him money for these conditions and such methods were common, allowing the fighters to conclude economically rewarding contracts. "Mestre Tatu" did not approve of the proposal and stated "the fight is decided in the ring". "Mestre Tatu" was allegedly threatened by Falkenstein and his manager for not accepting the offer. The situation escalated and the matter appeared in the media, where the two fighters swore and promised to massacre each other in the ring. The Luta Livre (Vale Tudo) fight then took place and "Mestre Tatu" defeated Falkenstein mercilessly in front of his manager after just 37 seconds. Due to this humiliation his opponent promised to reciprocate. Under the tutelage of his manager, the Russian was subsequently prepared with the help of more experienced fighters, with the hope of improving his technique and then challenging "Mestre Tatu" to a rematch. "Mestre Tatu" took the challenge and defeated him with a choke; much to the annoyance of "Homem Montanha’s" Manager.

Based on our sources, we noticed a very distinctive characteristic about "Mestre Tatu": He finished most of his fights by submission very quickly and without unnecessary ado.

In the following years, "Mestre Tatu" continued to travel to other cities in Brazil such as Minas Gerias, São Paulo, Bahia, Rio Grande do Sul, Amazonas e Rio de Janeiro, where he fought more professional fights. "Mestre Tatu" even travelled to Holland, Spain, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico and other countries and fought professionally and remained unbeaten during that time. Besides his commitment as a professional fighter, he also trained some of the local fighters in addition, passing on his wealth of fighting knowledge.

In Part VII of this series of publications we report on the retirement of "Mestre Tatu" and his Luta Livre lineage.