Strolling along the Copacabana promenade with Leandro Lo and his family this Friday afternoon, Rodolfo Vieira stopped at a rival unafraid of his muscular 94 kilo frame.
Jean Rodrigues, 7, first asks if Rodolfo’s a fighter. On hearing the answer yes, he starts throwing a barrage of punches to the hand of the Copa Pódio Heayvweight Champion, who begs for mercy right away.
Having won at Hebraica Club last Sunday, beating Léo Nogueira in the tournament final, Rodolfo went with his grandmother and mom to take a last look at his sand statue on Brazil’s most famous beach. Copa Pódio’s rule is clear: new champion, new statue. Even though Rodolfo won (after six categorical wins in six matches), the statue had to be taken down to make way for a new one.
So Rodolfo wasted no time. Punches to the mouth, chokes to the neck, climbs up the back and kicks to his own sand head.
“It was easier to take me down than I thought it’d be. Now Jeferson Maycá and the fans will choose another photo to make a statue from,” said the young GFTeam black belt, whose coach, Julio Cesar, was also with him.
Saulo Ribeiro’s wager
Rogean Rodrigues, the sculptor of Rodolfo’s likeness and the father of the ferocious Jean, was overjoyed with Rodolfo’s presence, despite knowing he was there to demolish his creation. “I really enjoyed making this homage to a cool guy like Rodolfo. It was a lot of work. I had to rebuild it at least twice because of the rain, not to mention all the maintenance work. It’s funny, the other day a fighter showed up here and took a bunch of photos of it. He said that the next statue would be of his brother. He was the brother of Xande Ribeiro [Saulo], who assured me that Xande would beat Rodolfo at Copa Pódio. Seems like it was a rematch from the Worlds, right? I told him that if Xande succeeded, I’d gladly make the statue. Speaking of which, how was that match?” the artist gets curious, asking Rodolfo about his fourth GP match, a thrilling win on advantage points.
Making the most of the upbeat mood on the promenade, where tourists, street urchins and beachgoers would pause to get a look at the champions Rodolfo and Lo; Jeferson Maycá issued a challenge: the Heavyweight GP champion gets a supermatch at the next event, the Lightweight GP in April.
But against whom?
“That’s up to the fans and the fighters themselves to decide,” says Maycá. “Anyone who wants to square off with the heavyweight champion can contact me; we’ll be picking the worthiest one.”
The challenge is out there. If anyone dreams of one day having their likeness sculpted in sand, just accept the mission.