Postcard from... Mexico City


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The Independent Online

Sunday afternoon at the Arena México, and several hundred locals are cheering as six greased, masked men beat the hell out of each other in increasingly spectacular fashion. This is Lucha Libre, the famous wrestling form that is Mexico’s second most popular sport after football. Thousands more are watching at home as the action unfolds in the arena known as “the cathedral of Lucha Libre”, which has hosted wrestling competitions since the 1930s.

A raucous relative of US wrestling, Lucha Libre looks like judo mixed with contemporary dance, with names like Satanico, Fishman and Mr Condor. Anyone sceptical about the relative “reality” of Mexican-style wrestling will be disabused by seeing a fight live: whether rehearsed or improvised, these bone-crunching stunts require skill and no small measure of bravery.

Yet while an elite few famous fighters command major salaries on a par with their American peers, most subsist on low wages and the spiritual rewards of fame. That may change soon, as El Rey – a TV channel for US Latino audiences, founded by film director Robert Rodriguez – intends to launch a new Lucha Libre league that could see their fame spread north of the border.