Article & Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media (see photo gallery below)
Lucha Libre has become all the rage this summer in Denver. It was featured at Museo de las Americas last Friday July 20th before a diverse standing room only audience. It was also part of the Westminster Latino Festival the following day on Saturday. Then in Golden on Sunday. Lucha Libre will also be a featured attraction at the Street Low Colorado Super Show 2018 National Western Complex on August 12th.
Friday’s show at the Museo de las Americas attracted a variety of people from young & old, male & female, Anglo, Black, Asian and Latino of course. The Luchadores were provided by Hugo’s Wrestling Promotions.
Everyone knew it was just show, with maybe the exception of some of the kids, but the oohs and awes and gasps at some of the aerial acrobatics the luchadores performed while wrestling each other left the audience both cringing and laughing. It was great entertainment that is catching on with audiences of all types. Souvenir masks, t-shirts and other memorabilia was for sale along with some delicious food and beer.
Jackie Munoz, Director of Operations for Museo de las Americas said she was pleased with the overflow turnout and the diversity of crowd not to mention all the fun everyone was having including herself. “I can’t believe how much fun I was having. My son and husband loved it as well. Others in the crowd talked about how their parents or grandparents from Mexico had enjoyed Lucha Libre over the years. After all it is the second most popular sport in Mexico after soccer. All of the Luchadores made themselves available to everyone who wanted to take a photo with them. (see photo gallery below).
Lucha Libre has a fascinating history and following.
According to maskalucha.com The History of Lucha Libre is intertwined with the history of Mexico, mass media, and entertainment in general. Its following, both in Mexico and other countries, has made it the most popular sport after soccer in a country of 100 million people, and an integral part of pop culture.
In the early 1900’s, Mexico was in the middle of a Revolution against the current dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. As with many times of war, the public looked for diversions to distract them from the every day realities of the fighting around them. Two Italian businessmen, Giovanni Reselevich y Antonio Fournier began promoting fights, in which opponents fought each other hand to hand, without weapons or protection. These fights were known as Lucha Libre, or ‘free fight’, and were notorious for their lack of regulations and violence inflicted upon the luchadores, or fighters.
While common belief is that this fighting style was originally introduced by the French during the invasion of 1863, it wasn’t until this time when Reselevich and Fournier where developing a cross-town rivalry between their respective promotion companies, that Lucha Libre began to develop large followings throughout many parts of the country.
Father of Lucha Libre
In 1929, Salvador Lutteroth González, was working in the United States where he began attending professional wrestling matches in El Paso, Texas. It was there that he became fascinated with the sport, especially the colorful personalities of the wrestlers, and decided to bring the sport to his home country of Mexico.
In 1933, together with partner Francisco Ahumada, González founded the Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL) in Mexico City. After being turned down by larger arenas, the EMLL presented its first card in Arena Modelo, which had previously been scheduled for demolition, and had already been partially dismanteled. Instead, the 5000 seat arena became the first home of modern Lucha Libre, and within a year, the EMLL was selling out events and looking for larger venues
The EMLL, now called the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) is the longest running active professional promotion company in the world. Its current home is the 16,000 seat Arena Mexico in Mexico City, considered the Mecca of professional wrestling in Mexico.
Enter Los Enmascarados
lucha libre in ring The use of mascaras, or Lucha Libre masks, had been a part of Lucha Libre since its inception, however, it wasn’t popularized until the introduction of Santo, El Enmascarado de Plata, or “Saint, the Silver Masked Man”. Santo made his debut in summer 1942, and quickly captured the public’s fascination with his fighting ability and mysterious secret identity.
Santo is clearly the greatest luchador of all time. Other contemporaries of great popularity include Blue Demon, Dr. Wagner, Solitario, Mil Máscaras, Rolando Vera, Anibal, Ray Mendoza, Rayo de Jalisco, and more. It is the only documented case of Santo ever removing his mask in public. Santo died from a heart attack (during a stage show he was putting on) on February 5, 1984, at 9:40 p.m., a week after his Contrapunto TV appearance. In accordance with his wishes, he was buried wearing his famous silver mask.
Unique Aspects of Mexican Wrestling
Lucha Libre Masks
A popular part of a Mexican wrestler’s persona is his or her mascara, or lucha libre mask. The masks play an important part of the storyline, and can also provide some anonymity in a country enthralled by the sport of Mexican wrestling.
Most all luchadores start their careers as masked wrestlers. They may even put their masks, and identities, on the line in a fight of Mask vs. Hair, or mascaras contra cabello, in which the loser loses his mask or gets his head shaved, depending on whether he P
wrestles with a mask or not.
Lucha Libre Style of Wrestling
Lucha Libre is also unique from professional wrestling promotions in the United States and Europe in that the wrestlers usually have smaller physiques and the wrestling moves are more aerial and high-flying, as opposed to the power moves popular in the US. The lighter weight division, or peso semicompleto, is the most popular in Mexico, and feature technical and acrobatic skills unparalleled in other countries.
Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
(1st match) Athena Estrada vs Luna
(2nd match) Allie Gato vs. Aria
(Semi final) Vago Estrada, Corsario Negro vs. Sol Azteca, Super Conejo
(Final Match) Rayo Plateado vs. Heros