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Book Review

Carlos Gracie: O Criador de uma Dinastia

Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2008

By Reila Gracie

Reviewed by Roberto Pedreira  

Posted  June 14, 2013

 .

Chapter 16

 1936

1936 was the year the Olympic Games were held in Berlin, one year before the outbreak of the Second World War [Reila seems to be in error about this date]. Adolf  Hitler, proponent of Aryan racial superiority, was obliged to witness American phenomenon Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the 100 and 200 meter sprints. In addition to Jesse Owens, a lot of negros also distinguished themselves in athletic competition. But on the Brazilian team, not a single negro was present. President Getulio Vargas had a foreign policy of showing to the world that Brazil was a country of white people [pais de brancos] and prohibited any negros from representing Brazil in the games.

 In 1936 the Federation of Pugilism wanted Helio and George to fight for the title of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion. [They didn't invite the Japanese jiu-jitsu fighters who were equally qualified, if not more, so the title would have have limited validity in any case, as at least one of them pointed out. But naturally, being able to say that you are the champion or title-holder of anything at all can be used by clever promoters to sell tickets. That is why boxing is over-flowing with champions. Businessmen created organizations so that they could sell rankings and titles and "sanction" title fights, and more weight classes so that there could be more rankings and titles, so that TV stations could attract viewers, and charge more for advertising space. The media change, but the principles don't.]

George was more than willing to have a go. Carlos had absolute confidence in Helio but didn't like the idea of him fighting George. " I would put Helio in with any adversary without any fear of defeat. I know perfectly well the abilities of my student [Helio] and I would send him into the ring with George, without fear. But I don't want to," he said. He went on. "I would prefer that the Federation give the title to George without a fight, to spare him a public defeat." It was rather a lose-lose situation for Carlos. He labored to convince George to change his attitude. Finally the Federation lost interest and said George and Helio could fight when they wanted to, but it wouldn't be for a Federation-backed title.

With this out of the way, Carlos began to bring the family back together. Helio was slated to encounter Ono in  jiu-jitsu match, and everyone in the know believed that Ono I [Roman numeral I, denoting Y. Ono, as opposed to Ono II, also known as Oninho, or N. Ono] was the most fearsome adversary that Helio had yet confronted. When faced with a common threat, the Gracies could bury the hatchet and circle the wagons, at least for a while. It was like when the USA and England got with the Communists when they had to deal with Hitler, but as soon as that was done, they were at each other's throats. In any case it was never settled who was the best Gracie, George or Helio. Later, George challenged Helio again, but that time Helio sent his young, strong, big (bigger than George anyway) student Pedro Hemeterio to "measure forces" with his older brother. George lost. But he climbed into the ring. Old and out of shape though he was. That's the kind of guy George Gracie was [sort of like Renzo later.] 

1937 was an eventful year. Carlos' daughter Geisa contracted polio at the age of two. The right side of her face was affected bu fortunately it was a mild case, and after a while it was almost unnoticeable. Carlos' sister  Mary, it will be recalled from a previous chapter, had taken a notion to join a convent and become a nun and devote her life to serving Jesus and the church. Carlos didn't approve, possibly because of his experience with a priest in his childhood (he said), and possibly also because he believed in creating life, and nuns couldn't do that, and possibly also, because he wanted to be the leader of a enormous clan, and didn't want to have to compete with Jesus for moral authority. Mary came down with typhus. Her hair fell out, but luckily it grew back, even frizzier than before. To be sure that a life serving Jesus was really what she wanted, she spent five years outside of the convent, three of them, almost, living with Carlos. Carlos wanted her to have babies, because that was nature's way. But he suffered silently. In his opinion, she lacked the mental power to overcome the trauma caused by seeing the matrimonial unhappiness of her mum Cesalina, provoked by the infidelity of her dad [infidelity is putting it mildly--he had five children with another women.].

During the five years that she lived with Carlos [earlier Reila said it was almost three years], Helio and George did everything they could to get her to change her mind. They took her to dances where young gentlemen tried to win her favor.  But she was firm in her decision. She entered the convent of Sion in Petropolis. Cesalina and the boys went to visit her, but according to the rules of the congregation, they couldn't get near her. Gastão Jr. was extremely offended and never forgot the incident. He thought the convent's rules were stupid. Ilka (sister of Mary) also had the intention to become a nun, but Cesalina and the brothers were dead set against it. She ended up giving up the idea.

Helio never got over it. As he said in his famous Playboy interview, [here, question 31],  "I would have preferred that she had been a bum. To complete her mission on earth as a women. What does it serve to be a virgin? A women with breasts, ovaries, who was born normally, should have children. Not to do it goes against nature."

 

 

NEXT WEEK

Chapter 17. Estadinho: Vanguarda dos Ringues

 

(c) 2013, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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