Mexican Wrestling. Lucha Libre or "free wrestling" is a Spanish term used to describe a type of professional wrestling famous in Mexico.
Lucha Libre or "free wrestling" is a Spanish term used to describe a type of professional wrestling famous in Mexico. Lucha Libre involves wearing brightly colored masks and executing carefully choreographed maneuvers. It may be said that Mexican wrestling is "fake". This is true to a certain extent since most matches have a predetermined winner and the luchadores play a scripted role. As a result, the storyline develops steadily.
Nevertheless, the agility and skill required to pull off most wrestling moves is certainly not fake. Luchadores employ special methods, such as maximizing the contact area, in order to minimize damage and pain. For example, an elbow is hard and sharp, whereas a thigh is padded by muscle and fat. If a luchador jumps on their opponent from a high above, they could inflict fatal damage using their elbow. An outstretched thigh on the other hand, although still painful, would not be anywhere near as dangerous.
A wrestling match is won when a luchador pins his/her opponent to the floor for a minimum of 3 seconds. Matches can also be won when a wrestler knocks their opponent out of the ring or forces them to submit. Disqualification occurs when a luchador executes an illegal hold or move, utilizes an illegal weapon or hits his/her opponent in the groin. Removal of an opponent's mask is also punishable by disqualification.
Masks have always been an integral part of lucha libre; however they didn’t become popular until the introduction of El Santo (The Saint). El Santo was a silver-masked wrestler who rose to fame in Mexico after winning a "battle royal" in which he defeated 8 opponents. A battle royal is a free for all wrestling match involving multiple competitors. Wrestlers are eliminated one by one until one is left standing and declared the winner. The public fell in love with mysterious El Santo and he soon became the most famous luchador in Mexico. After wrestling for almost half a century, El Santo became a symbol of justice for many, as well as appearing in comic books and films.
The history of wrestling revolves around Salvador Lutteroth, considered to be the "Father of lucha libre". Working as a tax inspector in Ciudad Juarez he would often cross into the USA to watch professional wrestling in El Paso at the Liberty Hall. He was so impressed by what he saw that he decided to return to his hometown of Mexico City and establish the Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre. At first, the only venue he could afford was an arena that was scheduled to be demolished. However, after one year, lucha libre had become so popular in Mexico that Gonzalez could afford to rent an arena in Mexico City with 16 thousand seats. Today the most popular places to see lucha is at the Arena Mexico and the Arena Coliseo. It is common for tourist to go to these venues with guided tours since they provide the best seats and secure transportation to and from the arena.
Lucha libre isn't just a man's sport. Women are also an important part of the lucha and through wrestling social issues such as inequality between sexes is addressed in a theatrical and entertaining way. Women are respected just as much as men in this sport. One of the famous popular female wrestlers is "Luchadora Tiffany". She was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1973. She received her training from “El Vasco” (her father) and made her wrestling debut in 1993, at the age of 20.
One of the most famous wrestling deaths occurred in 1993 when Jesús Javier Hernández Silva (Oro) suffered a brain aneurysm (ballooning of a blood vessel) as a direct result of a match. Oro’s opponent executed a "clothesline" move by running towards him, using one outstretched arm to hit him in the neck and flip him onto his back. Catastrophically though, Oro flipped over and landed on his head. His opponent attempted to pick him up off the floor but he collapsed and his pulse weakened. Oro died before he reached the ambulance. He was just 21 years of age. Oro’s nephew now pays homage to his uncle by working under the name of Oro Junior.