Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Lucha Libre legend ‘El Santo’ retired 40 years ago this week

Forty years ago this week Mexico’s most famous Lucha Libre star retired from the ring, and now his son, El Hijo del Santo, will do the same — but not without one final fight.

El Santo (real name Rodolfo Guzmán) is far and away the most popular Lucha Libre fighter ever to have wrestled in Mexico and one of the country’s most recognizable pop culture personalities in general.

Known for his fierce protection of his identity, El Santo is said to have only removed the silver mask that covered his entire face and head twice in public. Once in one of his 50+ Hollywood films, when he revealed his face to a love interest (even then using a body double), and another just a few days before he died from a massive heart attack at age 66 in 1984, this time revealing a partial part of his face.

El Santo was a typical rudo or bad guy for most of his career in the ring, but beloved by the public despite his evil ways. He retired on September 12th, 1982 after a bloody battle between he and his accomplices, wrestlers Huracán Ramírez, El Solitario, and Gori Guerrero, and the much younger foursome Perro Aguayo, El Texano, Signo, and Negro Navarro.

El Santo Lucha Libre wrestler
El Hijo del Santo’s father, El Santo — the original wearer of the silver mask — was a beloved legend in Lucha Libre even though he played a bad guy. Marrovi/Creative Commons

Months after his retirement his son, aptly named El Hijo del Santo (Son of Santo) entered the ring for the first time. In January, El Hijo del Santo announced he will also be retiring from the ring. Jorge Ernesto Guzmán Rodríguez (El Hijo de Santo’s real name), has also become a famous masked face in Mexican wrestling, fighting for both the AAA and the Worldwide Lucha Libre Council (CMLL) as a free agent.

Hijo del Santo and Santo Jr. Lucha libre fighters
Another generation continued when Hijo del Santo’s own son, Santo Jr., stepped into the ring in 2016. Father and son fought a match together, seen here in one of Santo Jr.’s first events. Screen capture

For the past two years, El Hijo says he has been mentally preparing to retire from the ring, and recently it was announced that he is willing to perform once more for CMLL in a fight that will cost the council 160,000 pesos or around 8,000 USD for 15 minutes. El Hijo can also be found on the website Cameo these days where fans can pay for a personalized message, hello or Happy Birthday, for anywhere between 45 and 80 dollars.

With reports from Reforma, The Sportster, and Infobae.

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