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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mondo Lucha A Go Go: The Bizarre and Honorable World of Wild Mexican Wrestling

Mondo Lucha A Go Go: The Bizarre and Honorable World of Wild Mexican Wrestling
Author: Dan Madigan
Publisher: HarperRayo
ISBN-10: 0060855835
ISBN-13: 978-0060855833

In 1968, I was 7 years old and one of my uncles came to visit. His first concern was his Lucha Libre. He couldn’t relax till we had rigged old black and white, needs a coat hanger for an antenna TV with the cracked dial from our Thanksgiving Day car accident. After much adjusting of the coat hanger, he sighed with happiness and sat down with me on his lap to watch his favorite Mil Mascaras. For the next hour, my uncle explained to me who was who in Mexican wrestling, the moves, the rules and why it was so great. I was hooked.

Every week thereafter, we rigged the coat hanger and settled back to watch Lucha Libre, he with his cerveza fria and me with my Dad’s root beer. We stained our fingers red eating the spicy peanuts covered in red chile powder and lemon while we shouted and rooted for our favorites. I still remember the excitement that coursed through my veins when the announcer would say, “MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIL MASCARAS”!

I grew up watching Lucha Libre, talking about it, fighting my mom over it since nice little girls weren’t supposed to be watching anything resembling fighting or violence, especially not so gleefully. The highlight of my young life was going to the Olympic Auditorium in downtown L.A. to watch it with my uncle. I’d have heated discussions in the playground with my neighbors and classmates over the Mexican wrestling over American wrestling, Mil Masacaras over Freddie Blasie and then I grew up and married, divorced, raised four children, three of them boys while holding down sometimes three jobs at a time. No time for Lucha Libre. I had almost forgotten it. Almost…

One night, my son Bobby, his wife and I were driving down a street in Tijuana and we passed the stadium where the line snaked around for two blocks. Bobby asked, “What’s all that about Mom.” That’s all he needed to say. I was shocked that I hadn’t taught my boys about Lucha Libre and had to rectify it immediately. We bought tickets and get in the long line comprised of men, woman and children. My son is now and forever a fan of Lucha Libre because of that night and I was once again reminded at just how great it is.

Four days ago, I got this amazing looking book in the mail, Mondo Lucha A Go Go: The Bizarre and Honorable World of Wild Mexican Wrestling. Wow! I couldn’t wait. I dropped whatever I was doing and eagerly opened the book. There in living color was El Santo! Mil Masacaras! I had to read more and I couldn’t put it down.

The book is an amazing look into the world of Mexican Wrestling. Dan Madigan traces the birth of the sport, news items, bios of wrestlers, impressions of American wrestlers, an unbelievable array of treasures from a world a lot of people know nothing about. This book is fantastic for both the fan as well as for anyone new to the Lucha Libre experience. It’s a fascinating look into an astounding world. It’s also a feast for the eyes as it has photos, images of handbills, wrestling cards, mementos and film posters. I never knew that my favorite wrestlers were also famous Mexican movie stars!

I loved the stories by Luchadores as well as the profiles of big celebrity wrestlers. I loved learning about how the special masks were made and of the experts that hand sew and customize them for the Luchadores. I’m a big fan of history and this book is full of it. It’s as wild a ride as the title implies and is one book to keep out on the coffee table for guest to flip through. I’d nail it down though because it’s one of those books that everyone is going to want for themselves. This book was so great I had to run out and get peanuts with chile y limon. Highly recommended!!!

*images courtesy of HarperCollins

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