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Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre - Spanish for 'Free Fight' - is a style of wrestling which started in Mexico in 1933. It is a spectacular conflagration of art, sport and theatre. The luchadors, dressed in leotards and often distinguished by their superhero-style masks, fling themselves from the ropes onto each other, flipping opponents in the air and occasionally crashing into the crowd.

The most celebrated figure in the history of the sport is El Santo (1917-1984), 'the Saint' who wore a silver mask. Over a career which spanned nearly five decades, he would transform from a 'rudo' (bad guy) into a 'technico' (good guy), along the way becoming a folk hero who had his own comic book and starred in over fifty films. The public remain enamoured by the mystique and secrecy of personalities like El Santo, whose son, El Hijo del Santo, is one of the stars of the modern day. The sport's popularity cuts across racial, social and generational lines, attracting massive television audiences across Latin America and beyond.

The commercial potential of Lucha Libre has been exploited with a Hollywood movie, spin-off events as far away as London and Japan, a special Nike shoe and a Coca-Cola energy drink called Blue Demon Full Throttle. On a smaller scale, vendors stand outside matches selling masks like those worn by the most famous luchadors. Jacob Silberberg soaked up the atmosphere at a bout in the Arena de Mexico.
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