Roberto Leitao, 83, passed away in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday morning after being hospitalized with COVID-19 on October 14. Leitao, a well-known mixed martial arts coach who trained the likes of Marco Ruas, Pedro Rizzo and Renato “Babalu” Sobral.
Leitao’s family made the announcement of his passing via social media.
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Leitao was considered to be a master technician in Luta Livre, or Brazilian Catch Wrestling. He is a 4th degree blackbelt in Judo, while also having 60 years in Luta Livre.
“Master Leitao” founded the first Brazilian wrestling federation, the Brazilian Confederation of Associated Wrestling, in 1979, and worked at the Olympic Games in 1998 in Seoul and in 1992 in Barcelona. He trained Ruas for the pioneering fight vs. Pinduca in 1984, and was in his corner at UFC 7 on September 8, 1995, in Buffalo, NY. There Ruas heel hooked Larry Cureton, ground Remco Pardoel into submitting, and TKO’d Paul Varelans, all in one night. Leitao was in Sobral’s corner when Babalu armbarred Mikhail Ilyukhin, and decisioned Kiyoshi Tamura, before losing a decision to Dan Henderson at Rings: King of Kings on February 2, 2000, again all in one night.