Euclydes "Tatu" Hatem (September 16, 1914 - September 26, 1984) was a Brazilian catch wrestler, known for being the founder of the martial art of luta livre.
He was born into a Brazilian family of Lebanese origin. At 14 years old, after an unsuccessful career as a rower, Hatem started learning catch wrestling at the Associação de Cristã de Moços in Rio de Janeiro. From his childhood he received the nickname of "Tatú" ("armadillo") for his short, stocky build, which did not impede him from showing skill for the art. The main of his teachers was the legendary Orlando Americo da Silva or "Dudú", who also taught to George and Hélio Gracie and defeated Geo Omori in a match.
After years of training, Euclydes turned professional and got into the fighting circuit of the time, which fluctuated between catch-as-catch-can and vale tudo. In 1935, after gaining success upon beating names like the Italian Attilio and the Brazilian Bogma, Euclyes took part in the first international wrestling championship held in Brazil, winning after submit the veteran Kutter. Just one month after, Hatem (now known as "Mestre Tatú" or simply "Tatú") was pitted against a 300 ib wrestler nicknamed "Máscara Negra" ("Black Mask"). He lost the match after 40 minutes, but the audience left convinced of his talent, moreover for the fact that Máscara was suspected to be the famous Wladek Zbyszko. Hatem became known for his skill with chokeholds, to the point many opponents only fought him if this kind of move was forbidden.
In 1937 Tatú faced Japanese judoka Takeo Yano, Mitsuyo Maeda’s colleague and Brazilian Navy’s hand-to-hand instructor. Actually, Hatem and Yano had trained together before a match between Takeo and Hélio Gracie, but both left personal feelings outside the fight. Characteristically, Hatem won the match by choke. Yano requested a rematch and it took place after two months, but with the additional rule that Euclydes would have to wear a judogi. This rule gave the advantage to Yano, who won when his second attempted hip throw made Tatú take a bad fall and get his shoulder injured, turning an easy prey. Euclydes resumed competing after healing, moving to Porto Alegre to find more opponents. In another of his most known matches, he submitted Luiz Stock, who protested and demanded another round only to fall again to Hatem.
Three years later, Hatem participated in the Copa Mundial Benito Valladares, where the winner would face French wrestling champion Charles Ulsemer. Not only did Tatú win the qualifier, but he also drew with Ulsemer. They faced again two months after, and this time Euclydes won by armlock in a match refereed by Oswaldo Gracie. Tatú and Ulsemer became close friends after this result. Hatem continued moving through the land, taking part in an elite tournament in São Paulo where he would met opponents like Richard Schikat, Tom Hanley, Henry Piers and Kola Kwariani. Unfortunately for Hatem, the tournament’s ruleset forbade chokes, and he found himself losing matches by pinfall, but still the Brazilian press praised his effort and performance.
In 1942, Mestre Tatú returned to Porto Alegre to answer the challenge written down by George Gracie, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu exponent who had also trained in catch wrestling under Hatem’s teachers. The match between them was celebrated to a great expectation, with Euclydes winning by armlock at the third round. Supposedly, he showed himself so dominant that Brazilian promoters dismissed the chance of a rematch, which Gracie didn’t ask anyway.
After an unbeaten tour through Argentina in 1947, Hatem had a rubber match with his old enemy Takeo Yano, winning again by submission. The same year, Tatú was pitted against Russian superheavyweight Leon Falkenstein, nicknamed "Homem Montanha" ("Mountain Man") for his 330 ib and large height. Falkenstein had contacted Hatem to discuss the possibility of a worked match, but Euclydes refused, and negotiations got so heated that newspapers echoed them. However, when the match happened, Hatem defeated him in only 37 seconds. The Russian demanded a rematch after training with several vale tudo exponents, but results were again a victory by submission for Tatú.
Tatú ended his career in the 1950s. After his retirement, he founded a gym and started teaching his fighting style of luta livre, though he did not quite stayed away from fighting; in one occasion, Valdemar Santana came to his gym to challenge him, being immediately defeated by Hatem. After this, promoters proposed a fight between Tatú and Hélio Gracie, but the fight never happened, as Gracie demanded his opponent to wear a gi and Hatem refused. Hatem focused himself on teaching, passing his knowledge to the brothers Carlos and Fausto Brunocilla until his death in 1984.