Born in Currais Novos, state of Rio Grande do Norte, Euclides Pereira Macedo was one of the most actives fighters of his time, the golden age of Carlson Gracie, Valdemar Santana and Ivan Gomes. He earned his fame in the northeast region of Brazil thanks to TV Ring Torres, a show on the local television. The most obvious difference between him and his opponents now is that Euclides is still alive. Alive and kicking at the age of 75, he lives in a three-story house – with a punching bag in one of the rooms – in Brasilia.
Euclides, the “Diabo Louro” as the sport press used to call him in the 60’s, is not as scary as his fighting record. He is a grandfather now and weighs 185 lbs, a bit more than the 158 lbs of his fighting times. Despite that, he is in as good shape as the book of newspaper scraps about his victories he carries around. The highlight is the September 7th 1968 issue of Bahia’s “A Tarde”: the day that the “Diabo Louro” defeated Carlson Gracie, by judge decision. That was the only defeat in the career of the master, deceased in 2006.
Ages and reigns that do not comeback. Very vain in or out of the ring, where he did not forget to straighten his hair even during the fights, Euclides used hair gel and was inspired by Elvis Presley. He was already submitting people with an American lock ages before Nino Schembri and Sakuraba that was still a baby in Japan. All the rest was very different than today. There were the long trips throughout Brazil in search of opponents (and money) and the frequent adoption of the open hand strikes rule in order to not shock women and children present in the fights. Also different were the unforeseen events; like the mother that climbed the ring to save her son that was being beaten hard by Euclides.
Those memories cause laughs and an eventual tear in the former fighter. All of the sudden he confesses with a low voice and one time powerful hands laid down on the scraps: “I suffered much disappointment. Once I almost set these scraps on fire. I was wronged by many people… My prize in my first fight against Ivan was 2 million. The fight against Carlson grossed almost 18 million. The next fight with Valdemar grossed 23 million at the box office. It’s almost a presend-day US$ 85,000. I was supposed to be a millionaire.”
When he was young, money was not the main issue: right after bending the arm of Valdemar Santana’s faithful companion, Dedi Balbino, Pereira challenged his real target. “Valdemar was afraid of me but, in 1964, he accepted the fight and we tied. We fought seven times. Once in Salvador he didn’t want to come back for the second round and had to give an explanation to the police. Years later, in 1971, he invited me for a tie breaker in the Police Academy of Brasilia, where he was an instructor. I arrived along with my wife and [Francisco] Índio and he was surrounded by his police guys. He used a lot of low blows but I won by points.”
He also fought with Rei Zulu (one victory) and Ivan Gomes (several times). It were according to him four fights with Gomes, outstanding ground fighter, including the defeat in the city of Feira de Santana, Bahia, by decision, when Euclides hurt his arm. He considers the fight against Carson, in 1968, to be his great moment. “No doubt about it,” he smiles. That’s a poorly remembered vale-tudo moment.
Determined to not go to the ground with Carlson, he managed to not be thrown down in Carlson’s first blitz on his legs. He balanced and hit hard with one of his strong left “Escaladas”, the famous open handed punch. “I didn’t accept to be grabbed, I wanted to exchange punches and kicks,” he recalls. “I knew he was much more skilled on the ground than me and got scared of going down. I didn’t accept his game, the tactics was to exchange blows: to counterattack and run around the ring hitting while standing. In the end of three 10 minutes rounds Carlson was bleeding a lot and very tired.”
Euclides gets excited while he explains the most polemic moment of the fight happened in the second round: Carlson brought him down, got his back and locked a choke; Euclides rolled towards the ropes and crawled out of the ring, causing the fight to go back to standing position. “They accused me of running… Running my ass, I was defending myself. It was a technical resource, spin to escape.” Since Euclides prevailed on the standing fight and Carlson was better on the ground, the result is polemic until today. Witness are still divided. If you ague about UFC results you can imagine what it was like in a time without video, defined rules or professional judges. “I hit Carlson because if I wont he would hit me. I knew he had a good heart. He was just like myself, feared nothing and would naturally face whoever appeared before him. For sure I shook a bit when I had to tame the bull he was, but whenever I set my foot in the ring I would say ‘God knows better’ and released my killing instinct,” tells the “Diabo Louro”.
Euclides had a difficult childhood when he worked as a hotel messenger and ran around after tips. His life changed after he began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques with Jurandir Moura and Diniz Câmara, in Recife. “My two teachers were pupils of George Gracie. I am also from the Gracie lineage. I only followed the thread...”
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