Son of El Santo speaks
Wrestler from Mexico refused to surrender his mask
I, just like many of you, arrived in this country with a suitcase that did not contain only clothes. Its real contents and value lay in the dreams and hopes that I carried inside my heart.
It was my first professional trip and I visualized myself there at my debut presentation entering the ring of the historic Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, listening to chants of "Saanto, Saanto, Saanto!" And luckily for me, that's how it happened.
The love from all my compatriots and Spanish-speaking brethren made me feel at home and, little by little, I started to win a place in their hearts.
Time went by and my dreams became increasingly ambitious, until I reached the most important company in the United States, World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF). There, along with my Mexican coworkers, we were able to capture, with our lively wrestling style, the gaze from all of you and also from Americans.
There was such success that they offered me a spot in the company. Can you imagine what this opportunity meant to me? To my surprise, the condition was to fight without a mask and with a different character. Then I fought tooth and nail to defend my silver mask, my great wrestling heritage, and I showed them that the character of El Santo was very loved by the Hispanic public. They finally accepted. They handed me several contracts and we have never reached an agreement because this company wanted rights in perpetuity to my presentations and they included, indirectly, my character.
All the fame, money and glory I obtained would be in exchange for handing over the character of El Santo -- "The Man in the Silver Mask" -- to the United States. Once again, I had to stand behind my heritage, my roots, my identity as a Mexican and I did not accept.
Believe me, I don't regret it.
All of you should also stand by your traditions, your language, your beliefs, your dignity, your flag, in the same way that I fought for the mask and the character my father created and which is proudly Mexican.
LONG LIVE MEXICO!
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
ESPN celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, by highlighting the contributions of Latinos in sports. For coverage in Spanish, visit ESPNdeportes.com.