|Birth name||José Díaz Velázquez|
|Born||July 6, 1929|
Mexico City, Mexico
|Died||April 16, 2003(aged 73)|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Chato Ortiz|
El Hombre del Rayo Rojo
El Rayo Rojo
|Billed height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Billed weight||100 kg (220 lb)|
|Trained by||Juan Espinoza (boxing)|
Rogelio de la Paz
José Díaz Velázquez (July 6, 1929 – April 16, 2003) was a Mexican Luchador, or professional wrestler, better known under his ring name Ray Mendoza. Diaz had great success in the National Wrestling Alliance, where he was a five time World Light Heavyweight Champion, as well as the first Mexican to hold the championship. In 1975, Diaz helped establish Universal Wrestling Association with Francisco Flores and Benjamín Mora. During his many title reigns, Diaz faced many present or future stars, such as Gran Hamada, Killer Kowalski, John Tolos, El Solitario, Fishman, René Guajardo, Gory Guerrero, El Santo, and Cavernario Galindo. After retiring, Diaz became an actor and appeared in several Mexican films. Mendoza was the father of Los Villanos, Villano I, Villano II. Villano III, Villano IV, and Villano V.
José Díaz Velazquez was born on July 6, 1929 and grew up in the Tepito district of Mexico City, a very poor and violent neighborhood. Díaz never finished any formal education as he had to start earning a living at a very early age to support himself and his wife Lupita Mendoza whom he married when he was just 15 years old. While working in a bakery Díaz also worked hard to keep in shape, participating in cycling, swimming and baseball.
Díaz decided to become a professional boxer and made his debut as a pro in 1950, keeping his dayjob in the bakery as well. Díaz boxed under name "Joe Díaz", a shortened version of his real name. At one point had a sparring session with a couple of luchadors as he was told not to spar with any of the boxers at the gym. The luchadors wanted to teach the boxer a lesson and ended up injuring Díaz's back with a knee drop. The back injury later forced Díaz to retire after only 20 matches. After his retirement he began working as a health inspector for the Mexico City county.
Professional wrestling career
Despite being forced to retire from pro boxing Díaz kept in shape by lifting weights at a local gym. The gym owner was impressed with Díaz physique and work ethics and recommended he become a luchador. Díaz was originally trained by Ray Carrasco and later also trained under Rogelio de la Paz, Genaro Contreas, Raul Rojas and Daniel García; the latter would later be famous under the name of "Huracán Ramírez". Díaz made his professional wrestling debut in 1954, using the ring name "El Pelón" (Spanish for "Baldy") Chato Díaz, then later on worked under names such as "Indio" Mendoza, El Rayo Rojo and El Hombre del Rayo Rojo. He also worked for a while as an enmascarado (masked) character called Gargantua between 1954 and 1955. In 1955 Díaz came up with the ring name "Ray Mendoza" after his mentor Ray Carrasco and his wife's maiden name Mendoza. As Mendoza he quickly forged a very effective Rudo character ("bad guy") by using well developed physique and charisma to create a ring character that the fans loved to hate. In 1956 Mendoza began working for Salvador Lutteroth's Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL), the world's oldest and Mexico's largest wrestling promotion. He made his debut at EMLL's main arena Arena Coliseo in February, 1956 in a Battle Royal that also included EMLL headliners Gory Guerrero, El Santo, Cavernario Galindo, Blue Demon and Black Shadow, a match that immediately established him as someone who Lutteroth saw potential in. In EMLL Mendoza struck up a friendship with René Guajardo and Karloff Lagarde out of the ring and a "partnership in crime" in the ring as the three became one of the most hated trio in lucha libre at the time. The three drew full houses all over Mexico, setting box office record after box office record as they faced técnicos(good guys) such as El Santo, Rayo de Jalisco or Blue Demon. They also had a very financially successful feud with Los Espantos (Espanto I, Espanto II, and Espanto III) in what at the time was a rare rudo vs. rudo feud. Outside the ring Mendoza, Guajardo and Lagarde often spoke out on behalf of the wrestlers, demanding higher pay and better conditions, and since they were able to generate a lot of ticket sales EMLL officials listened to their demands.
In 1959 Mendoza won his first championship, defeating Dory Dixon to win the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship. This marked the first time the NWA Light Heavyweight title was held by a Mexican and helped establish the title as the top title in Mexico from 1959 until the mid-1980s. Over the years Mendoza would become synonymous with the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship as he held it a record six times. During those title reigns he worked a legendary feud against Gory Guerrero, a feud between two of the most influential, unmasked wrestlers of the golden age of Lucha Libre. In 1965 Mendoza's in ring success helped make him very popular with the fans, so popular it was decided to turn him técnico. His first feud as a técnico was against his old partners Guajardo and Lagarde. First Mendoza defeated Lagarde in a Lucha de Apuesta (bet match), hair vs. hair match. Matches between Mendoza, Guajardo and Lagarde drew full houses all over Mexico, including a record breaking show where Guajardo defeated Mendoza in a Lucha de Apuesta match, the show drew the largest gate of that year and one of the best gates in Mexico in the 1960s. Guajardo and Mendoza also feuded over the NWA World Middleweight Championship, although once Mendoza won it he vacated it to focus on the Light Heavyweight division. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Mendoza would often work in the United States, working for the Southern California based NWA Hollywood. Here he held the NWA Americas Tag Team Championship on three occasions, teaming with Mil Máscaras, Raul Mata and Raul Reyes In the late 1960s Mendoza helped launch the career of Ringo Mendoza, who was not related to Mendoza but was allowed to use the last name as he bore a resemblance to Mendoza. Years later Mendoza was instrumental in the careers of his sons who wrestled as Villano I, Villano II, and Villano III.
Universal Wrestling Association
In 1974 Salvador Lutteroth, Jr. began working for EMLL, being groomed to take over after his father. Mendoza was already unhappy with the lack of attention his sons were getting in EMLL as well as the very rigid and conservative way of running show; when Lutteroth, Jr. was brought in Mendoza's loyalty to Lutteroth, Sr. ended. Mendoza vacated the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship and along with Guajardo and Lagarde resigned from EMLL. They joined up with promoter Francisco Flores and investor Benjamín Mora, Jr. to form a rival promotion called Lucha Libre Internacional, later globally known as the Universal Wrestling Association. Headlined by Mendoza, Guajardo, and Largede as well as disgruntled former EMLL wrestlers UWA held their first show on January 29, 1975, creating the first true rival for EMLL in decades. Since Mendoza had been synonymous with the Light Heavyweight division throughout the 1960s and 1970s it was not a great surprise that he became the first UWA World Light Heavy Champion, although at this point in his career he was used more to help wrestlers such as El Solitario and Gran Hamada gain credibility as they defeated Mendoza for the title. Mendoza also spent a lot of time guiding the careers of his three youngest sons Villano I, II, and III who were quickly gaining fame in the UWA. By the end of the 1970s Mendoza was all but retired, with his last headliner match being a championship match against WWWWF Junior Heavyweight Champion Tatsumi Fujinami, a match that was Mendoza's last true headliner match.
Mendoza announced his retirement in late 1982 and following a retirement tour of Mexico and Panama he retired from in ring action in early 1983. He would later work as a referee for special UWA matches, adding to the "big event" feel by having Mendoza oversee the action. He also trained various wrestlers at the UWA school along with his son VIllano I, Lagarde and Felipe Ham Lee, training wrestlers up until the UWA closed in 1995. In 1988 he was made the head commissioner of the Mexico City Boxing and Wrestling commission, charged with relegating boxing and wrestling events in Mexico, licensing wrestlers and approving mask matches and the likes.
Díaz married Lupita Mendoza when he was just 15 and the two remained happily married until Lupita died in 1986. Together the couple had eight children, three daughters, Rita Marina, Leonor and Lupita and five sons who all became luchadors; José de Jesús (Villano I), José Alfredo (Villano II), Arturo (Villano III), Raymundo Mendoza, Jr. (Villano V) and Thomas (Villano IV). After his unmasking in 2009 Raymundo Mendoza, Jr. is often billed as "Ray Mendoza, Jr." after his father. Mendoza was originally adamant that his sons get a good education instead of becoming wrestlers, wishing that they become lawyers or doctors as he wanted to spare them the physical suffering he experienced himself. Once he realized that his two youngest sons had begun wrestling under masks he agreed to train them and help their wrestling careers. He was also instrumental in training his youngest two sons, although he insisted they both get college degrees before they were allowed to begin wrestling. Since his youngest son Thomas finished his education first he became known as "Villano IV" while the second youngest son became Villano V". Díaz was a family man and never recovered emotionally after his wife died in 1986, followed by the premature death of José Alfredo in 1989 and the death of his oldest son José de Jesús in 2002.
Death and remembrance
On Tuesday April 15, 2003, José Díaz was taken to the Hospital General de Naucalpan suffering from kidney failure and later suffered an arrythmia in his right lung. Díaz died the night between April 16 and April 17, the official date of death being listed as April 16. His funeral was held two days later and was attended by over 100 people, long time friends and luchadors who grew up admiring Ray Mendoza's in ring exploits paid their last respect. Other than his family the funeral was attended by wrestlers La Infernal (married to Villano III), El Canek, Super Astro, Mano Negrao, Fuerza Guerrera, Pierroth, Jr., Olímpico, Shocker, Karloff Lagarde Sr., and his nephew Karloff Lagarde, Jr., as well as Ringo Mendoza. During the funeral some gave Ringo Mendoza their condolenses on the death of "his father", not realizing that there was no actual family relationship between the two. In 2010 CMLL honored Ray Mendoza's memory at their annual Homenaje a Dos Leyendas ("Homage to two legends") show on March 19, 2010. During the show Mendoza's three surviving sons, Villano I, Ray Mendoza, Jr. and Villano IV were present for a ceremony honoring Ray Mendoza.
Championships and accomplishments
- Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre
- NWA Hollywood Wrestling
- Universal Wrestling Association
Luchas de Apuestas record
|Winner (wager)||Loser (wager)||Location||Event||Date||Notes|
|Al Velasco (mask)||Gigantua (mask)||Unknown||Live event||1954|
|Ray Mendoza (hair)||Sunny War Cloud (mask)||Unknown||Live event||Unknown|
|Ray Mendoza (hair)||El Audaz (hair)||Unknown||Live event||Unknown|
|Ray Mendoza (hair)||Karloff Lagarde (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||Live event||1965|
|René Guajardo (hair)||Ray Mendoza (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||Live event||August 1965|
|Ray Mendoza (hair)||El Nazi (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||Live event||February 4, 1966|
|Black Shadow and Ray Mendoza (hair)||Los Hippies (hair)
(Renato Torres and El Vikingo)
|Mexico City, Mexico||Live event||April 18, 1968|
|El Solitario (mask)||Ray Mendoza (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||Live event||December 13, 1968|
|Ray Mendoza and Dory Dixon (hair)||René Guajardo and Shibata (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||Live event||October 6, 1971|
|Ángel Blanco (hair)||Ray Mendoza (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||Live event||November 10, 1972|
|Ray Mendoza and Ringo Mendoza (hair)||Ángel Blanco and Kim Chul Won (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||EMLL 40th Anniversary Show||September 21, 1973|||
|Perro Aguayo (hair)||Ray Mendoza (hair)||Mexico City||19. Aniversario de Arena México||May 24, 1975|||
|Ray Mendoza (hair)||Ángel Blanco (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||Live event||July 6, 1975|
|Ray Mendoza (hair)||César Valentino (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||Live event||June 26, 1977|
- Centinela, Teddy (April 16, 2015). "En un día como hoy… 1989: Fallece Villano II — 2003: Fallece Ray Mendoza". SuperLuchas Magazine (in Spanish). Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- Madigan, Dan (2007). "Ray Mendoza and Los Villaños". Mondo Lucha A Go-Go: the bizarre & honorable world of wild Mexican wrestling. HarperColins Publisher. ISBN 978-0-06-085583-3.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "Mexico: EMLL NWA World Light Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 389. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "Mexico: EMLL NWA World Middlweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. pp. 389–390. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "NWA Americas Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. pp. 296–297. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Mexico: Universal Wrestling Federation Light Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 397. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Manuel Flores and Manuel Rivera (March 23, 2009). "Cayó la máscara de Villano V". SuperLuchas (in Spanish). Mexico, D.F. pp. 3–7. 307.
- Marquina, Alva (March 19, 2010). "CMLL- Arena México (Cobertura y Resultados 19 marzo 2010) – Felino y Místico vs. Volador Jr. y Sombra por las máscaras". SuperLuchas (in Spanish). Retrieved March 20, 2010.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Mexico: Mexican National Light Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 392. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "Japan: All Japan United National Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 367. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Ruiz Glez, Alex (September 7, 2010). "CMLL: 79 historias, 79 Aniversario, las 79 luchas estelares". SuperLuchas (in Spanish). Retrieved October 20, 2012.
- Lucha 2000 Staff (April 2006). "Arena México: 50 anos de Lucha Libre". Lucha 2000 (in Spanish). Especial 28.