Rio Carnival's 398-pound king put on a diet

His doctor pleads with "King Momo" to lose weight.

Published February 11, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Rio de Janeiro's "King Momo" -- holder of the key to the city and officiator at all Carnival celebrations -- is engaged in a tug of war with his doctor over his weight, according to a Reuters report.

Momos is the name of the god of mockery in Greek mythology, and according to Carnival tradition, King Momo should be jolly and as big as a house -- a sort of pre-Lenten (and half-naked) Santa Claus. When King Momo sambas, everything -- sequins, feathers and flesh -- is supposed to samba with him.

It may make for a comic sight, but the result can be deadly. The previous King Momo, who held the formidable title for nine years, died of a heart attack in 1995.

Today's Momo, whose real name is Alex de Oliveira, tips the scales at 398 pounds, and his doctor is worried. The 27-year-old king, however, is more worried about deserving the title of Carnival king. A proper king, he said, should weigh at least 425.

Carnival is fast approaching, and for now, it looks as if the medic has won this battle of the bulge. King Momo is on a diet and has undergone a tummy tuck. He told Rio newspaper O Globo, "Before, I ate five McDonald's burgers. Now, I hardly get one down."

Take note, Momo wannabes.

To find out more about this year's Carnival, scheduled for March 4-8, log onto

By J.A. Getzlaff

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