Mexico’s Lucha Libre Bring Professional Wrestling to the Disadvantaged and Needy
Mexico's beloved lucha libre are bringing professional wrestling to Mexico’s poorest neighborhoods, orphanages and prisons. Known as The Caravan Super Tarin traveling wrestling show, these dedicated performers give free performances to those who don't have the money to buy a ticket to see a professional wrestling event at one of Mexico City's big arenas.
The matches serve a dual purpose: to entertain residents and to provide an opportunity for lesser-known or young wrestlers to catch the eye of a promoter.
"I have dreams of wrestling with the great ones, but I've been at it for three years and haven't received the opportunity," the youngest wrestler, 16-year-old Black Fury said from behind his mask, insisting on keeping his street identity a secret.
The Caravan Super Tarin is one of the larger street wrestling troupes that play Mexico City's working-class neighborhoods and one of the few that give shows free of charge. The leader of the caravan is Rafael Rojas Tarin — or Super Tarin — who heads the street vendors association that sponsors the shows.
Wrestling is the second-most popular sport after soccer in Mexico, so the turnout for these events is tremendous. Yet, despite the large audiences, the lucha libre get by on very little. The wrestlers get into their costumes in tiny spaces, sitting on packing crates or in the homes of locals. A show can feature 70 wrestlers. Sometimes fans will even bring the wrestlers plates of food as payment to show their support and appreciation.
The impact of the lucha libre in Mexico goes beyond that of other countries, incorporating Mayan mythology and becoming a recurring theme in its movies and culture. Wrestlers campaign with politicians and fight for low-incoming housing projects and other social causes.