In Tales of Masked Men we give insight into the significance and history of lucha libre. We also tell four different “tales” about the lives of men who have committed themselves to the sport. There are so many “tales” to be told and our four “tales” convey a sense of who the men who wear the mask are.
El Santo is the most famous and iconic wrestler of all time. He is known as “El Enmascarado de Plata” (the “Man in the Silver Mask”). He was born Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta in Tulancingo, Hidalgo in Mexico in 1917. He came from a wrestling family with several of his brothers also having careers as professional wrestlers. Huerta wrestled under various names with little success until finally settling on the name El Santo (the “Saint”), debuting in 1942. Originally, El Santo wrestled in the style of a “rudo,” (a “bad guy” wrestler) playing against the expectations that people had of a wrestler named, a “saint.” Later, El Santo turned to being a “técnico,” a “good guy” wrestler. He wrestled for over forty years but his career was not limited to the ring. He also appeared in a very successful comic book series and later starred in over fifty feature films as the “El Santo” character. These films were action / fantasy films where the masked wrestler was the protagonist. These films were distributed throughout the world which allowed the image of El Santo to reach an international audience, extending his legend. He retired from the ring in 1982 and died two years later. El Santo was buried in his wrestling mask. Photo courtesy of Revista Box y Lucha.
Mascarita Sagrada (El Original) stands 4’ 5” tall but is a giant in the ring. Born in Cañitas de Felipe Pescador, Zacatecas, Mascarita’s parents worked as vendors on passenger trains that travelled through Mexico. An early interest in martial arts led Mascarita to a gym that also gave lucha libre classes. Although reluctant at first, he eventually decided to begin exploring the sport. He was soon recruited to wrestle professionally by other mini-wrestlers. His mentors were El Gran Nikolai and Gulliver. Mascarita made his professional debut in September 1989 against Espectrito, a wrestler with whom he would eventually have a long-running feud, and whom Mascarita would eventually unmask in the ring a few years later. In the early 1990s, Mascarita was approached by promoter Antonio Peña to become a part of a new group of wrestlers called “mini-estrellas” (mini-stars). Although disparaged at first for being a marketing gimmick, the “mini-estrellas” soon won over fans and critics with their exciting matches and their skill in the ring. Known for his acrobatic style, Mascarita is a pioneer of a more aerial style of wrestling. He has wrestled for prestigious promotions such as CMLL, AAA, WWF-WWE, TNA and Promociones Azteca and has wrestled throughout the world. Photo by Carlos Avila. Courtesy of Echo Park Films, Inc.
Solar is often known as “El Maestro”(“teacher” or “master”). He is the master of a classic wrestling technique that is rooted in holds and clinches but he also has a mastery of a more acrobatic style of wrestling. Solar was born in the state of Jalisco in the town of Zacoalco de Torres into a boyhood of rural poverty. After his family moved to Guadalajara, Solar went with a cousin to see lucha libre for the first time. He has said that, “with lucha libre, it was love at first sight.” He trained under the best lucha libre teachers of the era including El Diablo Velasco and Rene Guajardo. He has wrestled with, and against, the greatest wrestlers that have ever stepped into the ring including El Santo, Lou Thesz, El Solitario and Angel Blanco. Solar is well known for being a member of the famous tag team called, “Los Cadetes del Espacio” where he wrestled alongside Super Astro and Ultraman. Solar has been a solo champion on numerous occasions including winning NWA’s Middleweight Championship, being awarded the belt by Lou Thesz himself. A favourite of Japanese promoters and fans, Solar travels regularly to Japan to wrestle. In his fourth decade as a wrestler, Solar continues to be active and to wrestle alongside the best wrestlers that the sport has to offer.
Photo by Cuauhtemoc Garcia. Courtesy of Echo Park Films, Inc.
Solar Jr. originally began his career wrestling under the name of Balam, a “jaguar” figure from pre-Colombian mythology. His professional debut was in August 2008 in Aguascalientes. Solar Jr. was trained by among others, Platino and by his father, Solar. He has had rivalries / feuds with Fishman Jr. and with the Traumas. In 2009, he and his father decided it was time to switch to the character of Solar and thus he became Solar Jr. He is college educated and holds a degree in clinical psychology. Like many masked wrestlers, he has a dual life, one as a luchador and one in a separate career. He continues to pursue both careers vigorously. Photo by Cuauhtemoc Garcia. Courtesy of Echo Park Films, Inc.