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A guide to Mexican Wrestling

The most popular sport after football, Mexican wrestling is an exciting, colourful and action-packed pastime that entertains millions of fans throughout the country.


All you need to know about Mexican wrestling

Officially known as Lucha Libre, Mexican wrestling is known for the vibrant personalities, distinctive masks and flamboyant style of fighting that abounds in the ring.

Just as in the US, there is a huge fan following of wrestling in Mexico, with many of the stars of the sport being household names.

The roots of Lucha Libre can be traced back to the 1900s, a time that saw Mexico experience a great deal of political unrest.

Uprisings against dictator Porfirio Diaz were becoming increasingly common and violent, and it was during this time that Lucha Libre emerged as a form of escapism for those wanting some entertainment amid the turbulence.

Giovanni Reselevich and Antonio Fournier therefore created Lucha Libre, developing a type of wrestling in which opponents would engage in hand-to-hand combat without any weapons – or indeed rules.

Dubbed 'Lucha Libre', or 'free fight', there was virtually nothing in the way of restrictions or rules, meaning the fighters, luchadores, were pretty much free to fight at will.

Although the creation of this type of wrestling took place in Mexico, it actually did so at the hands of two Italian businessmen. However, the birth of Lucha Libre's popularity throughout Mexico is widely accredited to a native Mexican, Salvador Lutteroth Gonzalez, who became enthralled with the sport after watching it in Texas.

He founded the Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre - EMLL - with a partner, determined to promote the sport by hosting events in large cities.

Today, the EMLL is now the CMLL - Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, and its situation in Arena Mexico in Mexico City is widely considered to be both the home and birthplace of modern Mexican wrestling.


Modern Lucha Libre

Today, Lucha Libre is well known for the use of mascaras or masks, but this was not something that was popular until the arrival of El Santo, known as 'The Silver Masked Man', in 1942.

His iconic silver mask hid El Santo's identity, and it was this combination of mystery and sheer fighting ability that really won the hearts of the public.

His first match took place in Mexico City, where he was single-handedly victorious against eight men, and today he is often celebrated as the most iconic and famous luchadore of all time.

Of course, by this time, wrestling was being televised throughout the country, helping grow its popularity even further.

Today, all fighters wear masks, and the wrestling itself has evolved to become more choreographed and acrobatic in contrast to its freestyle fighting origins. There are both male and female fighters, luchadoras, with storylines normally following a 'good versus evil' plotline.

Watching Mexican Wrestling

Any trip to Mexico City, the home of Lucha Libre, warrants a visit to see a live match.

You can buy tickets at the stadium or ahead of time to avoid disappointment, as these events do tend to sell out. It is easy to tell the 'good guys' from the bad thanks to the masks, so you know who to cheer for, with audience participation very much encouraged.

You'll see an astonishing array of acrobatics and flare, with plenty of drama and comedy thrown in for good measure. Many venues will provide a pre-match tour as well, enabling you to learn more about the history and culture surrounding Lucha Libre.

And of course, no trip to the ringside would be complete without taking home a mascara of your own to mark the occasion.

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