Rest in Peace Helio Vigio
According to Brazil’s Portal Do Vale Tudo, Jiu-Jitsu pioneer Helio Vigio passed away today, Friday, December 15, at around noon, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had been fighting cancer, and spent the last two weeks in the hospital, before finally succumbing to renal failure. He was 82 years old.
Modern mixed martial arts began with UFC 1, and Vigio was the referee during the finals between Royce Gracie and Gerard Gordeau, among several other fights. He was also the referee at Vale Tudo No Maracanazinho on November 30, 1984.
Every harcore MMA fan has seen the old tape of a towel being thrown in the ring and the referee picks it up, dries off his face, and stops the fight. That was Helio Vigio. And that time Wallid Ismael tapped Royce Gracie in 1998, Helio Vigio again.
Vigio became a student of the Gracies in the 1940s, and by the 1950s was teaching at the Gracie Academy alongside Carlson Gracie Sr, Robson Gracie, and Joao Alberto Barreto. He defended the honor of the art in Vale Tudo fights, and eventually became a 9th degree black belt.
His day job from the 1960s through the 1990s was in law enforcement. He rose to become one of the most feared chiefs of police in Brazil, in charge of the anti-kidnapping division and the fight against drug trafficking.
His son Redley Vigio is a 7th degree coral belt.
Helio Vigio’s funeral is scheduled for this Friday, at 12 noon, at the Carmo Memorial Cemetery, in Caju, Rio de Janeiro Port Area.
Carlson Gracie, Helio Vigio, Joao Alberto Barreto, Alvaro Barreto