The Father, the Son, and El Santo: A Movie Review of The Man Behind the Mask
By Eydie Mendoza
Meet the father, the son, and learn about the legend of El Santo.
“Will you hand down your mask?” El Santo was asked in a television interview, and he confessed that although his son was well prepared having learned Judo, Karate, and trained in la Lucha Libre, he did not want his son to be a wrestler.
El hombre detras de la Máscara/The Man Behind the Mask, a film by Gabriela Obregón, (Spanish with English subtitles) truly captures the story of El Santo, the Mexican icon and legend in the documentary filled with historic wrestling footage, posters, photos and familial love.
Once he discovered that his father was El Santo as at 8-years-old boy began to dream about being in the ring. By age 13 he grew obsessed and imagined himself wrestling in the costume.
In 1978, El Hijo entered the ring for the first time and was introduced to fans but El Santo lost against Bobby Lee that day. At the following match, he leant another wrestler one of his masks and the audience loved it. And so started the matches with masked man against masked man, and the rest was history.
When El hijo del Santo was training, he met Ringo Mendoza, El Fantasma, Blue Demon, Lizmark y Mascara año 2000.
As mentioned previously, El Santo did not want his son to be a professional wrestler who feared he would be hurt, but the strong willed aspiring athlete was already planning to be called Acuario. He entered the ring for his first match in 1982 as Korak, the name chosen by a manager. He took his father’s tights, shoes, knee pads, a cape and a black mask.
He was wounded so his father demanded that he give up wrestling. He defiantly said he was going to make it his profession and would win the titles, so his finally agreed to test him in the ring, observed for 5-minutes, and left in tears. After having fought as Korak only twice, El hijo del Santo was born.
With massive media coverage in Sept. 1982, El Santo retired from the ring but the icon continued performing on the silver screen.
El Hijo encountered a great deal of envy and criticism by the older wrestlers. They wanted to break him but he used his own techniques and amazed them.
On June 26, 1986, El Santo, in a moment of spontaneity, revealed himself in an interview on the Jacobo Zabludovsky show. Captured on television, one can hear the shock and gasps from the studio audience. Zabludovsky says it was one of the most memorable moments in his career.
At age 66, and only 10 days after that interview, Rudolfo Guzman, died. El Santo reigned for over 40 years.
“Hijo recuerda que muchos querrán quitarte la máscara … ,” from the film El Hijo Del Santo, “pero no cualquiera puede llevarla.” It’s true that many wanted to remove his mask but not just anyone is worthy to wear it.
The profession in Mexico suffered division and grew less popular creating a rough time for wrestlers.
“Lo que pasa en el ring,” he explains that they are a family outside of the arena, “… y lo que pasa afuera del ring.” Basically, the fight that happens in the ring stays there.
Learn how El hijo del Santo continues on after his father’s passing, a divorce involving an ugly custody battle, and losing the wresting champion title.
He began traveling, went to Europe, where he discovered a whole new market and he took the team. They held the first ever wrestling match in Le Louvre. El Santo’s trophies and artifacts traveled and were exhibited around the world. He also traveled to the United States, South America, Japan, and the two placed that affected him the most were Vietnam and Manila where he saw children eating off the floor, like in Mexico.
“Santo! Santo!” audiences cheer around the world for their hero of this blood sport fought in a classic wrestling ring, where strong men in costume are tossed around like rag dolls. El hijo del Santo, who has one over 80 tournaments, bleeds humanity so his silver mask turns red. El Santo’s son cares about global issues, helps children and is and activists for a cleaner ocean.
Meet el hijo del Santo in The Man Behind the Mask. It’s more than just a film about a legend; it’s magical, like El Santo say, “Esta máscara tiene majia.”