Rafael Alves Franca, was born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, and grew up playing capoeira on the streets. He became one of the most feared and respected capoeiristas of his time. He claimed Besouro was his first mestre but also his cousin and that he nicknamed him “Cobrinha Verde” because of his agility and dexterity, especially with his legs. Besides Besouro, he also had the opportunity to learn from some of the most famous capoeiristas of that time, Maitá, Licurí, Joité, Dendê, Gasolina, Siri de Mangue, Doze Homens, Espiridião, Juvêncio Grosso, Espinho Remoso, Neco, Canário Pardo and Tonha.
He always taught capoeira for free because, as he said, his cousin Besouro made him promise never to charge money to teach the art of capoeira.Alongside the rodas of Mestre Bimba, Mestre Pastinha, and Mestre Waldemar, this mestre’s roda was one of the most respected rodas in Brazil.
During part of his life, he traveled widely and had interesting adventures, like following the band of outlaws led by Horace de Matos. In one of these adventures, as he told, armed with an 18 inch machete he faced eight policemen who opened fire on him. But he was able to divert all the bullets with his knife. This and many other exploits were attributed not only to his agility and dexterity, but to magical secrets taught to him by an African named Pasquale who was a neighbor of his grandmother.
He was the 3rd Sergeant in the old CR garrison in Campo Grande, he was also a part of the Revolution of 1932 among others. He gave classes of in his sports Centre of Capoeira Angola Dois de Julho for many years, located in Alto de Santa Cruz, in the area of Nordeste de Amaralina (Casa Brito). In 1963, film actor Roberto Batalin invited him to join Mestre Traíra and Mestre Gato in recording an album of capoeira songs of Bahia which is now considered a masterpiece of capoeira.