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! Adelante!

A bilingual publication of the Missourian


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DECEMBER 2007 FREE

Unmasking
the world of
LUCHA
LIBRE Page 6

Cuban Mexican Families


recipe tradition in Missouri
yields juicy endures in face the
citrus-flavored celebrations challenges of
turkey. of Our Lady of adopting from
Page 12 Guadalupe. Guatemala.
Page 5 Page 10
[ cover story ] [ cover story ]

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n the upcoming film Mil Mscaras: Res- Jeffrey wants to promote science and engineer- lucha libre famous werent born immediately.
urrection, Mil Mscaras remains stoic ing to Latinos, Mil Mscaras said. I have worked San Antonio-based artist Xavier Garza, author and
as an Aztec mummy tries to hypnotize for years to encourage more collaborations between illustrator of books including Lucha Libre: The Man
him in an ancient pyramid, sends a demon Mexican and American universities, so it was a great in the Silver Mask, says that the first wrestler to
with super strength to kill him in the match. wear a mask in Mexico was a U.S. wrestler known as
wrestling ring, and revives an army of In a way, its a case of turnabout because luchas Cyclone MacKey.
evil minions to wage war against modern roots go back to the 1930s with matches featuring He came up with the Maravilla Enmascarada, and
humanity. American wrestlers fighting in Mexico. The sport he wore a leather mask, Garza said. But the mask
Demonic enemies and evil schemes are the bread sprang from the ring to movie screens in the 1950s, wasnt very well planned. It had ventilation problems,
and butter of lucha libre films, and major lucha libre and today the masks that the wrestlers wear are an and by the end of the match he was pretty much pass-
star Mil Mscaras has dealt with them many times iconic symbol in Mexico. ing out.
but only once in Missouri. In Columbia, the masks are a less common sight. After this inauspicious beginning, the mask concept
Resurrection and another, smaller lucha film Uhlmann says that one night during the making of was cast aside for a few years. When it returned, it
called Academy of Doom, were filmed in 2006 on the movie, he was chauffeuring Mil Mscaras back to was better thought out so the wrestler could breathe.
the MU campus and in other mid-Missouri locations. his hotel (the star never removes his mask in public) Soon it became the mark of the rudo, or bad guy, who
Missourians will have their first chance to see Res- when he pulled out of a gas station without turning on fought against the unmasked tcnicos, or good guys.
urrection in the spring of 2008. his headlights. Suddenly, he saw the flashing lights of The first hero to achieve fame wearing a mask
MU professor Jeffrey Uhlmann, who wrote, pro- a police car in the rearview mirror. was El Santo. According to Garza, El Santo began as
duced and plays the mummy in Resurrection, used I couldnt even speak, Uhlmann recalled. Mil a rudo, but his charisma was so strong that crowds
the making of the films to give computer science says Its no problem officer, Im a wrestler and hes a loved him anyway. Through a plot twist, promoters
students hands-on experience with film and video professor. changed El Santo from a villain to a hero and raised
production. Once the two explained that they were filming a crowds adoration to an even higher level.
He learned about lucha from a friend who grew up movie, the officer let them go. Theres no stopping And so the masked hero was born.
in Mexico. Thats also how he became interested in lucha libre.
building ties between U.S. and Mexican universities. Movie heroes
His enthusiasm convinced Mil Mscaras to star in History of a sport The offbeat comedy Nacho Libre brought the sport
the film. It was a major coup for Uhlmann and fellow Salvador Lutteroth is regarded as the founder of to the attention of uninitiated U.S. audiences in 2006.
professor Kannappan Palaniappan, who produced lucha libre. A native Mexican, Lutteroth began going The film stars Jack Black as a Mexican friar who,
the movie with him. After all, Mil Mscaras fame in to wrestling matches while on a trip in the U.S. He against all odds, becomes famous as a luchador.
Mexico is about on a par with Arnold Schwarzeneg- realized that organized wrestling could go over big Blacks character was loosely based on an actual
gers action-movie fame in the U.S. He agreed to do in Mexico, so he brought some wrestlers from the wrestler named Frey Tormenta, who wrestled to earn
the movie because, like Uhlmann, he is committed to U.S. to Mexico and rented an arena in Mexico City. money for an orphanage he founded.
making connections between U.S. and Mexican uni- Though he met with commercial success from the But the history of lucha movies has a very long,
versities. start, the masked wrestler personas that have made low-budget history that has little in common with the

WHAT IS LUCHA LIBRE?


In Spanish, lucha means struggle or fight, and libre

ARE YOU READY FOR


means free.
While the rules of lucha libre are similar to those

LUCHA?
of North American wrestling, becoming a luchador
doesnt require a super-muscled, bruiser physique.
Luchadores can be downright diminutive, thanks to
broader weight classes than those you find in U.S.
wrestling.
Lucha Libre is also known for a more high-flying and
technical style than wrestling in the U.S., and wrestlers
from the smallest to the most massive execute dra-
matic dives from the ropes.
According to lucha expert Xavier Garza, the major
difference between U.S. and Mexican wrestling is that
a lucha libre match is won by two out of three falls, as
opposed to one fall in standard U.S wrestling. Garza
thinks the difference exists because American audi-
ences dont have the patience for a match that lasts
Mexican wrestling has 45 minutes to an hour, as Mexican audiences do.
Some of the ultimate lucha libre matches revolve
crossed the border around a bet between two masked fighters. The victor
unmasks the loser, revealing his identity.

BY SARA SHAHRIARI
MU Professor Jeffrey Uhlmann, as the Aztec Mummy, threatens hero Mil Mscaras in a scene from Mil Mscaras:
Resurrection. The movie was filmed at several Missouri locations, including the MU campus.

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[ cover story ] [ cover story ]

COURTESY OF XANIER GARZA COURTESY OF XANIER GARZA

Masked Luchador El Toro Grande charges down the ring ready for action in a scene from Xavier Garzas book, Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask. As the lucha battle rages on, the Man in the Silver Mask flies through the air ready to come crashing down on El Vampiro in another scene from Xavier Garzas book.

I think the thing with high production values of Nacho Libre.


El Hacha Diablica, a 1965 film starring El Santo,
identity from the public, friends and neighbors. But not
taking credit for ones star luchador persona is seen as
later, Mil Mscaras, the luchador, appeared in school
to talk about the importance of reading. That is the
The popularity is already there, but it will grow.
Kids love to see colorful characters who can do amaz-
Duarte says the idea of struggle for positive things
is at the center of his business, and lucha libre is the
it is that most people in is typical of the lucha libre film genre. The plot begins the gentlemanly, classic way to handle the fame. power of the mask, he said. ing physical things in real life, and adults appreciate perfect way to represent this. In terms of trying to
with an ancestor of El Santo in colonial times who is Of course a mask doesnt guarantee fame, and most
their heart of hearts know surprise exactly the same as the modern El Santo. luchadores never reach the level of El Santo and Mil A show for the whole family
the athletic skills and performance artistry of the
luchador he said. Many movies and wrestling in
provide a message to people, its yeah, it is a strug-
gle, but you are free to wage that struggle on your
that its a show, but they In the film, a madman in love with the same woman as
the colonial El Santo sells his soul to an evil idol and
Mscaras. Garza says that many luchadores spend a lot
of time on the road, earning little and taking constant
Though some parents might shy away from taking the U.S. celebrate things that are no good for anyone. own, because youre free, he said.
kids to the stadium for an afternoon of watching All cultures are a mix of good and bad, thats why it Mil Mscaras defeats evil mummies in Missouri,
suspend that disbelief, pursues the modern El Santo out of jealousy. The film physical risks. masked men and women beat each other, in Mexico is best to seek out the good from other cultures and Duartes business grows and Nacho Libre makes
because for that moment is painfully low on dialogue and budget and you never
see more of El Santos face than his eyes and lips.
But celebrity did come to Mil Mscaras, who is 69,
and he says that the mask allows him to be a celebrity
lucha libre matches are widely regarded as great
family entertainment.
push away the bad. Lucha libre is a tradition from
Mexico that is very positive, and thats why it contin-
big money it seems the U.S. is ready to embrace
the sport. But as luchadores shot at fame and fortune
its real ... But for some Yet somehow he becomes a hero you root for, wheth- and keep in touch with reality. Garza, who grew up in a Texas border town called ues to attract fans. multiply, some worry the mask will become less a
er hes in the wrestling ring or battling the evil hatchet I can remove my mask and talk anonymously to Rio Grande City, remembers taking the five-minute Right now, Lucha VaVoom brings large lucha lifestyle and just another prop in the dramatic world
people, when people man in a dungeon. kids and people in different countries and learn what drive to Mexico as a child with his family for a Sun- matches to Los Angeles, and the cartoon Mucha of professional wrestling. Mil Mscaras thinks that
question that its real, those El Santo, along with El Demonio Azul and Mil Ms-
caras, became luchas biggest movie stars. El Santo,
they think, he said. Famous Hollywood people some-
times try to disguise themselves, but they never can be
day afternoon of watching matches.
Does anyone really believe that what is happening
Lucha brings it to kids. Lucha libre related products
are beginning to appear in the U.S. market.
wise luchadores will always recognize the power of
the mask.
are fighting words. who starred in around 50 films, died in 1984. He was completely in the real world. Thats why so many lose is real, and not staged theater? Jess Duarte began California-based company As a man I am a husband, a father, and a grand-
buried in his mask, and today his son, El Hijo del touch and behave crazy. They become like movie char- I think the thing with it is that most people in Lucha Libre Streetwear in 2004. Designing and sell- father. Thats who I am, he said. Mil Mscaras
- Xavier Garza Santo, fights wearing a disguise like his father wore acters and are no longer people. The difference for the their heart of hearts know that its a show, but they ing T-shirts with lucha libre-inspired images, the is superhuman. Sometimes a young luchador is not
and uses similar moves. luchador is that he can remove his mask. suspend that disbelief, because for that moment its company has evolved from selling the shirts online satisfied being just a man, so he removes his mask
For example, one day several years ago Mil Mscar- real, Garza said. But for some people, when people and in small shops to planning lines for large stores. in public thinking that the man can become superhu-
Whats in a mask? as, without his mask, went to pick his granddaughter question that its real, those are fighting words. The companys growing success shows that what is man. It doesnt happen. People are people. The mask
It cant be easy wearing a mask day in and day out up at school. There he heard some of her schoolmates Mil Mscaras sees lucha libres popularity continu- true in Mexico will probably be true in the U.S.: lucha in lucha libre represents an ideal that will live for-
sweating in it during wrestling matches, hiding an talking about how they dont like to read. A few weeks ing to grow in the U.S. and beyond. libre sells. ever.

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