• Largo da Cruz
     Besouro's fight 


    Mister Antunes (José Antunes Brigido Dorneles), in 1921, a boy of 12 years, student of Colégio Bom Jesus (today the agency of Banco Brasil) run by the sanctimonious educator of the time, Dr. Thier de Abreu Chagas (graduated in Law), watched the famous fight due to the slit between two split halves from one of the windows of the educational establishment. All the school was in uproar except him who, with eyes lit, without blinking, witnessed the fight and not long ago, offered me the story.

    The policemen were three - two armed soldiers and a lieutenant police chief (Manuel Francisco, last name not known) - who ambushed Besouro who was spending a night in a suspected house of a prostitute on the Brilhar alley, which went from Largo da Cruz to the border of Rio Subaé, today by a gate on the side of Argemiro's stationary, the Baú. Three soldiers guarded the back passage (of the river) and, from the other side, the Largo da Cruz, as was told, the lieutenant and his soldiers closed the siege. Sensing danger, Besouro rapidly chose to face the situation from the side of cross which offers various exits to the streets that derive from there. Mister Antunes saw all this on that unforgettable summer morning.

    The fight took place around the big cross which had a huge square base. On the moment which the great suspense, the alley is interrupted by the fast Besouro and faces the uniformed men who fire their arms without being sure of the target and they are, frail, kicked by the fast feet of the capoeirista who reaches, with a well-aimed heel-kick, the head of the lieutenant putting him out of shape, senseless; the panic dominates the soldiers who shoot at random hitting only the voluminous pedestal of the cross behind which, in abrupt manouver, the fast capoeirista dodges, and in a rapid instance, reappears, kicks the soldiers making the free of their rifles, throwing these far, when, quickly, hurries into an escape and reaches the Xaréu alley, and crossing the river (without a bridge then) disappears to the top of the hillside of Calolé gaining his freedom in the dense sugarcane fields, ahead. It all happened very quickly. The marks of the bullets stayed in the base on the polished stone of the pedestal of the enormous cross, that my curious boy's eyes still saw before the eradication of the flashy cross, the one that in the earlier century had served as a lean-on moments before weakening, already hit by the cholera, our legendary sanitary engineer, our hero-martyr of medicine - Cypriano Betâmio [1818-1855].

    The scene on the map

    Beosouro's fight on Largo do Cruzeiro / Largo da (Santa) Cruz - today Batista Marques square

    Other summaries of what happened

    The happening took place on the Largo da Cruz. The soldier challenged Besouro (Besouro responded): come back, come back, I don't want to do anything. Besouro took the revolver of the cavalry.

    The police soldier that appears in this case is called José Costa and he had gone to the pursuit of Besouro Mangangá after getting the order from police chief Manoel Francisco. The polce had been informed that Besouro was at the Largo da Cruz, today's Batista Marques square. Besouro ran to the Xaréu alley, crossed the bridge. José Costa, who ran a lot, managed to get close to Besouro, but was hit by discharges of Besouro's revolver. The bravery of Besouro is remembered by all. In this case, he was hit two shots in the arm of the policeman. The fact that he had faced a policeman turned him into a hero, a mestre for the boys of the Trapiche de Baixo, where they played capoeira barefeet and common clothes. His fame became legendary.


    Another [version of the] story tells that "once, Besouro forced a soldier to drink a large quantity of cachaça. The fact was registered on Largo de Santa Cruz, one of the main ones in Santo Amaro. The military-man later went to the barracks telling what happened to the commandant of the detachment, corporal José Costa, who sent 10 soldiers to take the man to jail, dead or alive. Sensing the arrival of the policemen, Besouro backed out of the bar and, leaning his back to the cross on the square, opened his arms and told that he wouldn't give himself in. A violent shooting was heard and he was straight on the floor. Corporal José arrived and confirmed the capoeirista was dead. Besouro then rose up, told the commandant to raise his hands, and ordered the soldiers to go away [..]"


    And there's also another ending: [..] But what surprise when the soldiers approached and saw Manoel getting up, as alive as they were, and started running in fast movements along the straight which takes to the Xaréu bridge. Without hesitation he jumped from the bridge, almost flying and ran to the forrest.


    The old Cross Square

    Streetview of Largo da Cruz, today Batista Marques square

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