The Mexican Luchador enmascarado (masked professional wrestler) El Santo is a revered legend in Mexican sports. That the name El Santo is Spanish for The Saint should not mislead you into thinking he was the kind of guy to turn the other cheek when you slapped him on one. On the contrary, he was more of a demon when he stepped inside the wrestling ring. His trophy cabinet shows that he is the Mexican wrestling G.O.A.T.
El Santo may have bowed out of this earth almost four decades away but the world will never forget his contributions. His wrestling career lasted almost half a century and yet he found the time to have a successful career as an actor as well. It is no wonder he has been immortalized by several comic books as a hero who defends justice.
10 interesting facts about El Santo
As a masked wrestler, one would think that El Santo would conceal every bit of information that would give away facts about his life. That is not the case because there are a lot of interesting facts about the great wrestler that are well known. They include:
1. El Santo was born in Talancingo
Who was Santo the wrestler? The legendary El Santo wrestler was born on the 23rd of September, 1917 in Talancingo, meaning that he would have turned 104 years old in 2021. His hometown, Talancingo, is a small city that is located some two-hour drive towards the north-eastern part of Mexico City.
He did not live in Talancingo for a long time as his family moved to Mexico City when he was still a child. They settled in a dangerous neighbourhood called Tepito that was rough for children and adults alike. It is in the same neighbourhood that El Santo’s statue stands tall to honour not only his wrestling career but also his roots.
2. His real name is Rodolfo Guzman Huerta
You probably guessed that El Santo is not the wrestler’s real name but you might not have known that his parents named him Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta. Other fashions of the name Rodolfo include Rudolph, Rudolf and Rodolphe. It is an ancient Germanic name that means honourable/famous wolf.
The name Guzman has Spanish origins and it means good man. The name Huerta is also Spanish and it means garden or fertile land. Combined, his names mean an honourable man with a lot of potential. True to the meaning, he lived to fulfil his potential and became a great wrestler.
3. He made his ring debut in 1934
While he made his wrestling debut in 1934, it was not until 1953 that he became a superstar and showed that he was going to be the most famous Luchador. The hallmark of his wrestling career is based on a 1953 match against another legendary wrestler by the name Black Shadow.
The fight could not have come at a better time because it happened just as the television era was dawning on Mexico. When he wagered Black Shadow’s mask it became a turning point in his career.
4. He used more than one ring name throughout his career
The deceased wrestler used several ring names as his wrestling career progressed. It is in his early career that he changed names a lot having been used up to six different ring names. Some of the names he used include Rudy Guzman, Hombre Rojo, El Enmascarado, Murcielago Enmascarado II, and El Demonio Negro.
In 1942, he adopted El Enmascarado de plata (The man of the silver mask) as his ring name. This was in line with the colour of the mask he wore on his face. In the same year, his manager formed a team of wrestlers and he had three names in mind, El Santo (The Saint), El Diablo (The Devil), or El Angel (The Angel).
Rodolfo chose the name El Santo. On the 26th of June 1942, Rodolfo was 24 years old when he wrestled at the Arena Mexico for the first time as El Santo. The name settled in well with fans but later on, he would remove El to be known as simply ‘Santo’.
5. El Santo is a comic book character
As he is seen as a hero all over Mexico, it was only a matter of time before El Santo became a character in comic books. His story was ripe for comic books that feature heroes who adorn the El Santo's mask and provide hope for the oppressed and weak people in society.
El Santo comic books and animations are as big in Mexico as Superman and Batman comics are big in the United States. He is the favourite superhero in most Mexican comics. There are also several fiction movies that star El Santo as a hero such as Santo vs. The Evil Brain (1958).
6. He won many titles during his wrestling career
The prowess of the legendary wrestler was never in doubt as he kept bagging title after title. As a wrestler for Empresa Mundial de Lucha Libre in Mexico, he won the following championships:
- NWA World Middleweight Championship
- NWA World Welterweight Championship
- Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship
- Mexican National Middleweight Championship
- Mexican National Tag Team Championship (with Rayo de Jalisco)
- Mexican National Welterweight Championship
7. He was a movie star
He was invited to work in movies in 1958 by Fernando Oses who was also a wrestler and an actor. Since he was not ready to give up his wrestling career, he accepted the invitation but vowed to continue with both.
Santo Luchador appeared in two films by Fernando titled el Celebro del Mal and Hombres Infernales but they could not find distributors for those films for several years.
Santo achieved stardom as a movie star in 1961 when he was given the starring role in Santo vs The Zombies. In the end, he appeared in about 52 lucha libre films in which his role was always as a superhero.
8. He was married to Maria de los Angeles Rodriguez Montano
He was a family man who had a very large family. The love of his life was a beautiful woman named Maria de los Angeles Rodriguez Montano. The two got married in the 1940s and were blessed with a total of 10 children.
One of his sons by the name El Hijo del Santo (the son of the saint) also became a professional wrestler as well as a grandson named El Santo Jr. Are there any other El Santo's family members who are wrestlers? His brother Miguel was also a wrestler.
9. He retired in 1982
The early years of the 1980s saw him slow down in his ring activities and this signalled that he was about to throw in the towel. It was 1982 when he announced that his farewell tour was to take place in August and September of that year. There were three events lined up and the first took place on August 22 at the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City.
He won all three matches, the last one being held just a week before he turned 65 years old. During the retirement tour, his son Jorge was introduced to the crowds as the El Santo of the new generation.
10. El Santo died of a heart attack
Is Santo alive? Sadly, Santo did not live long to enjoy his retirement. As if he knew he was going to die, he did something unexpected in January of 1984. He was a guest on TV and he lifted his mask just enough to reveal his face to the public for the first and only time. So, how did El Santo die?
It was around 9:40 p.m. on the 5th of February, 1984 when he collapsed and died. El Santo's cause of death was a heart attack he got while working on a stage show. His family honoured his wishes by burying him as he wore his famous silver mask. It is estimated that about 10,000 people attended his funeral.
In September 2016, Google put a few Google doodle logos on the internet to commemorate his 99th birthday in 2016.
There is no doubt that El Santo descended from a lineage of great wrestlers. Not only were his siblings good wrestlers by their own accounts, but also some of his children followed in his footsteps. It is a passion which they shared and used to elevate their family’s name. For his part, he will be remembered for having popularized professional wrestling in Mexico.
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