ByJosh Molina, writer at
Covers mixed martial arts and professional wrestling and the convergence of the two industries.
Josh Molina

El Santo, one of the most influential professional wrestlers of all time, would have turned 99 years old today.

Born Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta, El Santo, "The Saint" was the Hulk of the 1940s, where he emerged as Mexico's biggest and brightest star, revolutionizing the sport and bringing it to the mainstream.

A true "Luchador," he mastered the art of Lucha Libre Mexican style wrestling, which is a combination of athleticism, acrobatic stunts, and showmanship.

Under the traditional mask, he was the "good guy," portraying a Robin Hood character, a people's champion who fought for the working class.

He wrestled from the 1930s to 1984, when he died at 66.

Watch him wrestle here:

Perhaps one of the reasons for his success, El Santo was widely known for believing in his character. He never took off his silver mask in public, and never let even those in his inner circle see him without it.

He was buried in his mask.

El Santo crossed over from Lucha Libre to popular culture, appearing dozens of movies, with titles such as "Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro," (The Vampire Women) and "The Mummies of Guanajuato."

The wrestler was also the subject of a long-running comic book in his name.

El Santo inspired many other wrestling characters of his time, including the great Mil Mascaras and The Blue Demon.

His gimmick and style of wrestling saw a resurgence in America in the 1990s, when wrestlers such as Juventud Guerrera, La Parka, Psychosis and Rey Misterio Jr. exploded onto the scene.

He essentially made wearing a wrestling mask cool, even influencing non-Mexican wrestlers, such as Sami Zayn, who appeared as El Generico on the indy scene before joining the WWE.

Even Google on Sept. 23, honored him by placing him on the company's homepage.

El Santo allegedly only took off his mask in public once, briefly, appearing on a talk show a week before he died.


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