You’ve probably heard of the infamous Mexican Wrestlers. But do you know the history, meaning, rules, and culture behind these men? We are here to answer the 4 big questions you should be asking about Lucha Libre before you see it. We promise this information will only help you enjoy the sport even more than you would have! To get the bottom of these answers, we’ve interviewed our very own Lucha Libre Tour local guide, Vladimir, to give you first-hand knowledge of this popular Mexican sport.
Lucha Libre originated in the 1930’s as a foreign theatre spectacle. After watching a wrestling show in El Paso, Texas, tax officer Salvador Lutteroth Gonzalez became enthralled with the sport and successfully started his own enterprise of Lucha Libre shows in Mexico in 1933-35. As the show gained in popularity, the wrestlers became Mexican celebrities.
Lucha Libre can be literally translated to “free fight”, but is better known as “wrestling” or “freestyle wrestling”. These wrestlers are known as luchadores.
As the name suggests, Lucha Libre is based on freestyle wrestling where there is free movement. This includes infamous moves like flying kicks, aerial maneuvers, acrobatics, and even using the ring’s ropes to catapult themselves towards their opponents. This allows for crazy movements with little penalty.
Two out of three rounds must be won with no time limit. To win you must pin the opponent on his back for 3 seconds.
Illegal moves include:
Similar to American wrestling, the luchadores fight to entertain the public. However, they are high-performance athletes that train every day for hours. Every movement must be practiced until perfection, as one mistake can result in muscle tears, broken bones, and even death. Although it may look like they are dancing, do not undermine the fact that this is a very dangerous sport!
Although Lucha Libre masks have been used since the inception of the sport in Mexico, it wasn’t until the infamous ‘El Santo, el enmascarado de plata’ came along in 1942 that masks became popular for usage in the sport.
For Mexico, masks, in general, have a historical significance that can be dated back to the Aztecs. When a luchadores puts on the mask, he takes on a different identity for the performance. The identity that masks convey can be of animals, gods, or ancient heroes. Contrary to common belief, not everyone wears masks during matches!
Lucha Libre is considered the second most important sport in Mexico (after soccer or fútbol). Luchadores such as El Santo, Gory Guerrero, Blue Demon, Mistico, and others have become revered icons in the Mexican culture – even showing up in comics and movies. Since the 1940s, becoming a wrestler is considered a dream for the youth of Mexico.