Thu, Feb 16, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Rio de Janeiro’s carnival king in for Spartan boot camp

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO

King Momo, the Rio carnival’s symbol of overweight excess, has employed a personal trainer and a nutritionist as he goes to drastic lengths to whip himself into shape for the festivities.

Milton Junior, who weighs in at 160kg and stands 1.84m tall, knows what he is in for as this will be his fourth year playing the Brazilian city’s carnival king.

“I began training in July. Already I lost 10kg. I will be at my thinnest,” Junior, who is a bank manager in real life, told the O Globo daily, revealing his crash diet and Spartan regimen.

“In 2009, when I became King Momo for the first time, I got tired a lot. I didn’t realize all the running around the job entails. After the carnival, I was ill. I therefore decided to prepare for the samba marathon.”

King Momo will receive a giant key to the city on Friday, symbolically initiating five days of wild partying and frantic samba dancing.

Hundreds of thousands of revelers will take to the streets for what is dubbed the “greatest show on Earth.”

SAMBA FACE-OFF

The climax will be two night parades next week at the Sambadrome, where Brazil’s top 13 samba schools will compete on floats packed with dancers clad wearing huge headgear, feathers, sequins and little else.

King Momo’s job, leading the crowds in five days of wild partying and frantic samba dancing, is a demanding one and Junior has vowed this year to be prepared.

As well as having a nutritionist telling him what to eat, he has Marco Santos, director of the prestigious Beija-Flor samba school, as his personal trainer.

“The fatty is the classic figure of King Momo, but now he is also healthy,” said Santos, who is using spin classes to strengthen Junior’s legs and knees to endure days of almost non-stop samba.

King Momo doesn’t just have to move well, he also has to look good, and again Junior is taking no chances.

In addition to strenuous physical exercise and a Spartan diet, he has indulged himself with a reflexotherapy massage, some deep skin cleaning and, for his feet, a spot of podology.

“I take great care of my feet. An ingrowing toenail could ruin my Carnival,” Junior said.

STRIKE CALLED OFF

Meanwhile, police and firefighters in Rio de Janeiro on Monday called off a weakened strike just a few days ahead of the carnival celebrations.

Demonstrators no longer were pushing for pay hikes, but for the release of about 30 strikers jailed for taking part in the walkout, Ana Paula Matias, a spokeswoman for military police, told Globo television.

Rio’s military police, which are separate from the armed forces, had joined with police and firefighters in their action to support a similar strike in the state of Bahia, where troops and federal police were deployed to impose order.

About 9,000 civilian police in Rio de Janeiro state joined the strike that started on Friday when military police and firefighters walked off the job. Together, the three forces include about 70,000 public workers.

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