Santo

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For other uses, see Santo (disambiguation).
This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Guzmán and the second or maternal family name is Huerta.
Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta
Mascara El Santo.jpg
Santo's mask
Birth name Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta
Born September 23, 1917
Tulancingo, Hidalgo, Mexico
Died February 5, 1984(1984-02-05) (aged 66)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) El Santo
Rudy Guzmán
El Hombre Rojo
El Demonio Negro
El Murcielago II
Billed height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Billed weight 210 lb (95 kg)
Debut 1934 or 1935
Retired September 12, 1982

Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta (September 23, 1917 – February 5, 1984), more widely known as El Santo (The Saint), was a Mexican Luchador enmascarado (Spanish for masked professional wrestler), film actor, and folk icon. El Santo, along with Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras, is one of the most famous and iconic of all Mexican luchadores, and has been referred to as one of "the greatest legends in Mexican sports"[1][2][3] His wrestling career spanned nearly five decades, during which he became a folk hero and a symbol of justice for the common man through his appearances in comic books and movies. He is said to have popularized professional wrestling in Mexico just as Rikidozan did in Japan.[3] Guzmán's son followed him into wrestling as El Hijo del Santo, or 'Son of Santo'.

Biography[edit]

Born in Tulancingo in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, to Jesús Guzmán Campuzano and Josefina Huerta (Márquez) de Guzmán as the fifth of seven children, Rodolfo came to Mexico City in the 1920s, where his family settled in the Tepito neighbourhood.[2][3] He practiced baseball and American football, and then became interested in wrestling. He first learned Ju-Jitsu, then classical wrestling.[4]

Pro wrestling career[edit]

Accounts vary as to exactly when and where he first wrestled competitively, either in Arena Peralvillo Cozumel on 28 June 1934, or Deportivo Islas in the Guerrero colony of Mexico City in 1935, but by the second half of the 1930s, he was established as a wrestler, using the names Rudy Guzmán, El Hombre Rojo (the Red Man), El Demonio Negro (The Black Demon) and El Murcielago II (The Bat II). The last name was a rip-off of the name of a famous wrestler Jesus Velazquez named "El Murcielago" (The Bat), and after an appeal by the Bat to the Mexican boxing and wrestling commission, the regulatory body ruled that Guzmán could not use the name.[3]

El Santo[edit]

In the early 1940s, Guzmán married María de los Ángeles Rodríguez Montaño (Maruca), a union that would produce 10 children; their names were Alejandro, María de los Ángeles, Héctor Rodolfo, Blanca Lilia, Víctor Manuel, Miguel Ángel, Silvia Yolanda, María de Lourdes, Mercedes, and the youngest child Jorge, who also became a famous wrestler in his own right, El Hijo del Santo (Son of Santo).[3] In 1942, Rodolfo's manager, Don Jesús Lomelí, was putting together a new team of wrestlers, all dressed in silver, and wanted Rodolfo to be a part of it. He suggested three names, El Santo (The Saint), El Diablo (The Devil), or El Angel (The Angel), and Rodolfo chose the first one. On 26 June, aged 24, he wrestled at the Arena Mexico for the first time as El Santo, although he later was known simply as "Santo". Under this new name he quickly found his style.[2][3]

One of Santo's greatest matches was in 1952, when he fought a tag-team known as Los Hermanos Shadow (which consisted of famed luchadors Blue Demon and the Black Shadow). Santo beat and unmasked Black Shadow in the ring, which triggered Blue Demon's decision to become a técnico, as well as a legendary feud between Blue Demon and Santo that culminated in Santo's defeat in a well-publicized series of matches in 1952 and again in 1953. Although they appeared together in a number of action/adventure films, their rivalry never really ended in later years since Santo always remembered his defeat at Blue Demon's hands.[2][3]

Retirement[edit]

By the early 1980s El Santo slowed down his in ring activities leading up to his inevitable retirement. His farewell tour was announced for August and September 1982. the first of three events took place on August 22, 1982 at the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City. On that night El Santo teamed up with El Solitario to take on Villano III and Rokambole in a match that naturally saw the legends win. After the match Villano and Rokamble lifted El Santo up on their shoulders as he received the adulation of the sold out arena. The following Sunday El Santo appeared at Arena México where he teamed up with Gran Hamada to defeat Villano I and Scorpio, Jr.[5] Santo's last match took place on September 12, 1982, a week before his 65th birthday.[3] In his last match ever El Santo teamed up with Gory Guerrero who came out of retirement to reform "La Pareja Atómica" as they teamed up with Huracán Ramirez and El Solitario. Their opponents included one of El Santo's biggest rivals in Perro Aguayo as well as El Signo, Negro Navarro and El Texano. True to the legend of El Santo he won his last match and retired as the hero he always portrayed in the ring and on the screen. His retirement tour was also used to introduce Santo's son Jorge as the next generation El Santo as he was ringside at each show wearing the silver mask and being introduced as El Hijo del Santo.[5]

Death[edit]

Just over a year after his retirement (in late January 1984), El Santo was a guest on Contrapunto, a Mexican television program and, completely without warning, removed his mask just enough to expose his face, in effect bidding his fans goodbye.[3] It is the only documented case of Santo ever removing his mask in public.[2] Santo died from a heart attack (during a stage show he was putting on) on February 5, 1984, at 9:40 p.m., a week after his Contrapunto TV appearance. As per his wishes, he was buried wearing his famous silver mask. His funeral is considered one of the biggest in Mexican history as fans and friends flocked to see "el Enmascarado de Plata" (The Silver-Masked One) one last time. After his death, a statue of El Santo was erected in his home town of Tulancingo and other statues have been created since then.[3]

Legacy[edit]

The legend of El Santo, better known as "El enmascarado de plata" lives on to this very day both inside and outside the wrestling ring. Santo's youngest son with his first wife, Jorge carries on the legend of the Silver Mask, wrestling as El Hijo del Santo wearing the silver mask, cape and outfit that is very close to what his father used to wear. While El Hijo del Santo is not as big an icon as his father he is considered a more technically proficient wrestler.[6][7]

In the early 1960s a female wrestler called La Novia del Santo (Spanish for "the Bride of El Santo") worked the Mexican circuit. Under the silver mask was Irma González, a well-known wrestler who had promised her fiancé that she'd stop wrestling, but went back in the ring under a mask when she could not resist the draw of competition. La Novia got El Santo's blessing to use the name and is the only non-family member ever given the right to use the Santo name. Gonzáles only wrestled as "La Novia del Santo" for 7 months until she got married. Later on, a homosexual wrestler adopted the "La Novia del Santo" name but El Santo took action and put an end to the impostor's use of the name.[8]

Recently one of El Santo's 25 grandchildren made his professional debut. After gaining some seasoning under different identities, he began working as "El Nieto del Santo" (Spanish for "the Grandson of Santo"). El Hijo del Santo took legal actions to prevent this as he owns all "El Santo" rights when it comes to wrestling, presumably because he himself is planning on letting one of his own sons use the "El Nieto del Santo" name. These days, the grandson of El Santo works as "Axxel" and only uses "El Nieto del Santo" as an unofficial nickname to avoid any legal issues. Axxel uses the same trademark mask, cape and trunk design as El Santo but has incorporated black trim and knee pads, presumably not to infringe on the legal rights of El Hijo del Santo. In August 2012, a court ruled in favor of Axxel, allowing him to again begin working as El Nieto del Santo.[9]

Movie career[edit]

Cover of Sensacional de Luchas comic issue no. 425 featuring El Santo.

In 1952, the artist and editor José G. Cruz started a Santo comic book, turning Santo into the first and foremost character in Mexican popular literature, his popularity only rivalled by the legendary Kalimán character. The Santo comic book series (four different volumes) ran continuously for 35 years, ending in 1987.

Also in 1952, a superhero motion picture serial was made entitled The Man in the Silver Mask, which was supposed to star Santo, but he declined to appear in it, because he thought it would fail commercially. The film was made instead with well-known luchador El Médico Asesino in the lead role, wearing a white mask similar to Santo's silver one. A villain named "The Silver-Masked Man" was introduced into the plot at the last minute, thus the title of the film strangely became a reference to the villain, not the hero.

In 1958, Fernando Osés, a wrestler and actor, invited Santo to work in movies, and although Santo was unwilling to give up his wrestling career, he accepted, planning to do both at the same time. Oses was planning on playing the hero (a masked cop named "El Incognito") in these two films, with Santo appearing as his costumed sidekick, "El Enmascarado". Fernando Osés and Enrique Zambrano wrote the scripts for the first two movies, el Cerebro del Mal (The Evil Brain) and Hombres Infernales (The Infernal Men), both released in 1958, and directed by Joselito Rodríguez. Filming was done in Cuba, and ended just the day before Fidel Castro entered Havana and declared the victory of the revolution. Santo played a masked superhero-type sidekick to the main hero (who was called El Incognito) in these two films, and was not the main character (nor was he depicted as a wrestler in these 2 films, but rather a masked police agent of some sort). The films did poorly at the box office when they were released. Years later however, when Santo's film career took off, the distributors of these two films quietly added Santo's name into the titles. Most people feel Santo's film career really took off in 1961, with his third movie "Santo vs The Zombies." Santo was given the starring role with this film, and was shown for the first time as a professional wrestler moonlighting as a superhero.

Santo eventually wound up appearing in 52 lucha libre films in all (two of which were just cameo appearances). The style of the movies was essentially the same throughout the series, with Santo as a superhero fighting supernatural creatures, evil scientists, various criminals/ secret agents and so on. The tones were reminiscent of U.S. B-movies and TV shows, perhaps most similar to the old Republic Pictures serials of the 1940s.

Santo in Mujeres Vampiro

His best-known movie outside of Mexico is also considered one of his best, 1962's Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro (Santo vs. the Vampire Women), which was also featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In this movie, the production values were better, and there was an attempt at creating more of a mythos and background for Santo, as the last of a long line of superheroes. It was an enormous success at the box office. Only four of the 52 Santo films were ever dubbed into English, the other 48 being only available in Spanish. The English-dubbed Mexican films of that time period were imported to the United States through the efforts of K. Gordon Murray who changed the name of Santo to "Samson" for some of his releases. Most of Murray's imported Mexi-films went directly to late-night American TV. Santo's most financially successful film was The Mummies of Guanajuato (1970), which co-starred Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras. Many Mexi-movie fans consider it to be the greatest luchador film ever made.

The Santo film series inspired the production of similar series of movies starring other well-known luchadores such as Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras, Superzan and the Wrestling Women, among others. Santo even co-starred with Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras in several of his movies. When Blue Demon invited Santo to co-star with him and Mil Mascaras in the "Champions of Justice" movie trilogy, however, Santo was too busy making other films to participate.

By 1977, the masked wrestler film craze had practically died off, but Santo continued to appear in more films over the next few years. His last film was Fury of the Karate Experts, shot in Florida in 1982, the same year he retired from the ring. Santo officially retired from wrestling on Sept. 12, 1982 (a week before his 65th birthday). His last match was at the El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos in Mexico. All told, his professional wrestling career spanned a total of 48 years.

In 1984, Santo appeared as a guest on Contrapunto, a Mexican television program and, completely without warning, removed his mask just enough to expose most of his face (reportedly he wasn't very pretty). It is the only documented case of Santo ever removing his mask in public. Santo died from a heart attack on Feb. 5, 1984, at 9:40 p.m. (the week after his Contrapunto TV appearance). He was 66 years old. As per his wishes, he was buried wearing his famous silver mask, and famed Mexi-wrestler Huracan Ramirez was one of his pall bearers.

Seventeen years after Santo's death, his real-life son (known in Mexico as "El Hijo del Santo") played the lead role in a brand new Santo movie called Infraterrestre (2001), which co-starred the famed Mexican wrestler The Blue Panther.

Other media appearances[edit]

El Santo animated series

Santo also became an animated mini-series on Cartoon Network in Latin America, and was called Santo Contra Los Clones. On October 27, 2004, Cartoon Network released an only season of 5 short episodes. Each episode is about 2 minutes long, and they were shown weekly on Wednesday nights at 8:00 PM. There is also currently another Santo series in development at Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank. The mini series was inspired by Santo's classic movies. Santo fought against an evil scientist, Dr. Clone, who collected the DNA of Santo's previous foes and resurrected them to kill Santo and dominate the world.

El Santo also inspired the animated series ¡Mucha Lucha! and El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera. In ¡Mucha Lucha! he's called "El Rey", and is represented as an icon of all positive things. In El Tigre, the character White Pantera shares much of El Santo's ever-optimist attitude from the movies as well as his first name, but there's also a character named Silver Sombrero who is an exact copy of Santo, except he wears a large Mexican hat.

Santo is immortalized in the rockabilly band Southern Culture on the Skids' 1996 album Santo Swings!/Viva el Santo. Santo is often resurrected in Southern Culture's live performances when an audience member jumps onstage donning Santo's mask. The Latin ska band King Changó released an album titled The Return of El Santo. A Turkish actor portrayed an unlicensed version of Santo in the infamous bootleg Turkish film 3 dev adam. In addition the 2001 Canadian cult film, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, also features an unlicensed version of El Santo as one of Christ's monster hunting associates.

He also is referred by Mexican rock band Botellita de Jerez in their song Santo, where they told Santo's victories in the ring and in the movies as well as the big respect he got as a Mexican movie hero, in the song they parody songs like the Batman TV Series's theme along as some religious songs.

Santo filmography (in chronological order)[edit]

Postscript:

  • Infraterrestre (Inner Earth) (2001) A Santo film made two decades after Santo's death, in which the role of Santo is played by el Hijo de Santo (his real-life son).

In wrestling[edit]

  • Finishing moves
  • Signature moves

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Lucha de Apuesta record[edit]

Wager Winner Loser Location Date Notes
Hair El Santo Cavernario Galindo Mexico City Unknown  
Hair El Santo Raúl Torres Unknown Unknown  
Hair El Santo Gorilita Flores Unknown Unknown  
Hair El Santo Judas Colombiano Unknown Unknown  
Hair El Santo Gory Casanova Unknown Unknown  
Hair El Santo Arturo Chávez Unknown Unknown  
Mask El Santo Golden Terror Guadalajara, Jalisco Unknown  
Mask El Santo La Cebra Colombia Unknown  
Mask El Santo La Araña Torreón, Coahuila Unknown  
Mask El Santo La Momia San Salvador Unknown  
Mask El Santo Cara Cortada Unknown Unknown  
Mask El Santo Dragón Rojo Unknown Unknown  
Hair El Santo Chico Casaola Unknown Unknown  
Mask El Santo Dr. X (original) Unknown Unknown  
Mask El Santo and Dr. X (original) Los Infernales (I and II) Unknown Unknown  
Hair El Santo Murciélago Velázquez Unknown January 1943  
Hair El Santo Bobby Bonales Unknown September 24, 1943  
Hair El Santo Bobby Bonales Unknown February 9, 1944  
Hair El Santo Jack O'Brien Mexico City April 8, 1944  
Hair El Santo Enrique Llanes Mexico City July 3, 1949  
Mask El Santo Black Shadow Mexico City November 7, 1952 [18]
Mask El Santo Monje Loco Unknown May 15, 1955  
Mask El Santo Halcón Negro Mexico City December 3, 1955 [19]
Mask El Santo El Gladiador Mexico City September 21, 1956 [19]
Hair El Santo Rubén Juárez Mexico City 1963  
Hair El Santo Espanto II Mexico City 1963 [19]
Hair El Santo Benny Galant Mexico City April 26, 1963  
Mask El Santo Espanto I Mexico City October 25, 1963 [19]
Mask El Santo Dick Angelo Unknown 1968 [19]
Hair El Santo René Guajardo Unknown August 10, 1968  
Hair El Santo Jorge Allende Unknown August 11, 1968  
Hair El Santo Perro Aguayo Unknown October 3, 1975  
Mask El Santo Bobby Lee Mexico City September 3, 1978 [20]
Hair El Santo Bobby Lee Mexico City September 24, 1978  
Mask El Santo El Remolino Ciudad Obregón, Sonora 1980  

References[edit]

General
  • L.L. Staff (2008). "Lucha Libre: Conoce la historia de las leyendas de cuadrilátero". Santo (1917-1984) (in Spanish) (Mexico). p. 54. Grandes Figuras de la Lucha Libre. 
Specific
  1. ^ "Greatest Ever Mexicans - No 8". Gary Denness. Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Various (2005). "The Silver Masked-Man". Lucha Libre> Masked Superstars of Mexican Wrestling. Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. pp. 280–285. ISBN 968-6842-48-9. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Madigan, Dan (2007). "El Santo". Mondo Lucha a Go Go: the bizarre& honorable world of wild Mexican wrestling. HarperColins Publisher. pp. 71–78. ISBN 978-0-06-085583-3. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Chris (2006-08-05). "GWrestling: Viva lucha libre!". Independent, The (London). Retrieved 2009-02-24. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b Various (2005). "The Silver Masked-Man". Lucha Libre> Masked Superstars of Mexican Wrestling. Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. p. 286. ISBN 968-6842-48-9. 
  6. ^ Madigan, Dan (2007). "El Hijo del Santo". Mondo Lucha a Go Go: the bizarre& honorable world of wild Mexican wrestling. HarperColins Publisher. pp. 125–130. ISBN 978-0-06-085583-3. 
  7. ^ Various (2005). "The Idol's Son". Lucha Libre> Masked Superstars of Mexican Wrestling. Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. pp. 287–296. ISBN 968-6842-48-9. 
  8. ^ Various (2005). "La Novia del Santo / the Bride of El Santo". Lucha Libre> Masked Superstars of Mexican Wrestling. Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. pp. 208–210. ISBN 968-6842-48-9. 
  9. ^ Alvarez, Bryan (August 17, 2012). "Fri update: Big-time weekend schedule, tons of shows, SummerSlam update, Brock and Paul, Rousey threatens death or dismemberment, Santos vs. Cain odds, Tiffany~!, WWE cut, tons more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az Various (2005). "the villain of the small screen". Lucha Libre: Masked Superstars of Mexican Wrestling. Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. pp. 150–183. ISBN 968-6842-48-9. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az "the Films of El Santo". D. Wilt. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  12. ^ Guerrero, Eddie (2005). Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story. Simon and Schuster. p. 9. ISBN 0-7434-9353-2. 
  13. ^ Royal Duncan and Gary Will (2000). "MEXICO: National Light Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 391. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  14. ^ Royal Duncan and Gary Will (2000). "MEXICO: National Middleweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 293. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  15. ^ Royal Duncan and Gary Will (2000). "MEXICO: National Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 393–394. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  16. ^ Royal Duncan and Gary Will (2000). "MEXICO: National Welterweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 392. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  17. ^ Royal Duncan and Gary Will (2000). "MEXICO: EMLL NWA World Welterweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 390. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  18. ^ Encyclopedia staff (July 2007). "Enciclopedia de las Mascaras". Black Shadow (in Spanish) (Mexico). p. 32. Tomo I. 
  19. ^ a b c d e Encyclopedia staff (October 2007). "Enciclopedia de las Mascaras". Santo (in Spanish) (Mexico). pp. 29–30. Tomo IV. 
  20. ^ Encyclopedia staff (July 2007). "Enciclopedia de las Mascaras". Bobby Lee (in Spanish) (Mexico). p. 39. Tomo I. 

External links[edit]