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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  July 5, 2013


Chapter 19

 Helio Deixa os Ringues

After the incredible successes of the 1930's, the following decade was quiet in Rio for jiu-jitsu. Carlos went to Forteleza, Helio retired from the rings, George moved around all over the place.

In 1938 Helio spent some time in São Lourenço at the ranch of a Gracie student named Aluizio de Castro. One day at a party Helio met Margarida. She was tall, thin, with a narrow waist, short and wavy hair, and elegantly dressed. She was popular with the young men. Helio immediately felt attracted to her and spent the night gazing at her from across the room. Eventually he found a way to talk to her. She had two sons, Tom and Magali, from her previous marriage to Artur Gomes Pereira. Actually, she was still married, because Brazil didn't permit divorce at that time, not until 1977 [although of course Brazilians had no trouble maneuvering around the laws]. She left her husband just that same year (1938) and was available (but not in a hurry, as her father was rich).

In addition to ditching her husband and smoking, she also drove a car, her own, a convertible yet, at a time when virtually only men enjoyed that privilege She was also a smoker. Helio said that he would never marry a smoker. She gave up smoking. Helio and Margarida began "keeping company."

Maragrida was from Ceará, 28 years old, three years older than Helio. He didn't care. Margarida's father, Milton Carvalho, came from a humble background, but by working hard since he was a boy, became rich and successful. Among his many interests, were a construction company and real estate holdings. Helio was one of the most eligible bachelors in town and used to pal around with Maneco and Benjamin Vargas, whose father happened to be the president/dictator Getulio Vargas, the same one who had arranged for Helio, Carlos, and George to not have to serve the prison terms they had been sentenced to for their gang ambush of Manoel Rufino dos Santos in 1932. They liked to party. But Helio never drank alcohol. Just water. 

Milton didn't want his daughter to be hooking up with an unemployed former "fighter." He wanted a respectable man for his little girl, someone with steady job and some social status [he was probably a pretty typical father therefore]. But Margarida did things her own way. Recognizing that his daughter was set on casting her lot with Helio, Milton thought that it would be better to accept it and bring Helio into the family. He offered him a job supervising a construction site in Bonclima, Petrópolis where he was building a hotel named the Hotel Promenade. 

Helio eagerly accepted, because he liked the country life [possibly also because he was unemployed and lacked education, work experience, job skills, had a criminal record, and being a man, was expected to support his "women"].  Reila is not sure how long Helio stayed in Petrópolis. None of the people she interviewed, including Helio, apparently knew. But for sure it wasn't long. But he worked hard while he was there, even buying a horse (named Quilate) with his earnings. One day Helio discovered that a worker was pilfering construction materials. He ratted the man out  to Milton, expecting to be praised for his loyalty. But Milton didn't care. He said, "He is stealing from me, but he makes money for me." Feeling that his authority was not being respected, Helio quit and went back to Rio. 

Margarida's husband Artur decided to take custody of his sons, Tom and Magali. In 1940, Helio and Margarida did what people like them did in similar situations. They got married in Uruguay. Back in Rio, Helio didn't want to ask his father-in-law for financial help in supporting his new wife (Margarida). He found a modest pension in Flamengo. Being near the Gracie Academy, he began spending time there [although Carlos was in Fortaleza and George, Oswaldo, and Gastão Jr., had other things to do and places to be; it isn't clear who was in charge of the academy]. Margarida was on her knees everyday washing clothes, including the kimonos. She also helped him to sell them to his friends.

With Carlos gone, Helio lacked the wherewithal to set up a business of his own. He accepted a job in real estate with a  friend, the communist lawyer Letelba de Brito. That didn't work out well. He asked another friend, the banker Artur Rios for a job of some sort. Unfortunately, Helio's work skills were limited to choking people and breaking their arms. Rios told him to take as much money as he (Helio) wanted, but he couldn't give Helio a job. Helio replied, "I need a job. I don't want money, because I don't know when I can repay it."

But all was not lost, as Reila says [mas nem tudo estava perdido.] Helio managed to rent an apartment in the Seabra Building where he taught private lessons to the children of his friends, such as Leonardo Brito, 4 year old son of  the communist lawyer Letelba de Brito. After one year of this. Margarida's father decided to give some property to each of his kids. To Margarida he gave a large apartment in Flamengo. Helio put a mat in one of the rooms. This room was the Gracie Academy until 1952.



Chapter 20. 1940

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

















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October 9, 2018

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