Lucha Libre Fighter Fuerza Guerrera Won’t Show His Face Without A Mask

Fuerza Guerrera is a famous Mexican Lucha Libre fighter who we met in the Latino American Gymnasio, Mexico City. He refused to be interviewed with his face showing – many fighters will only be seen in public wearing their masks. So we interviewed him from behind. Forgive my poor Spanish.

Conversation with a Lucha Libre fighter

Whilst lurking around the parking lot of Arena Mexico waiting for the press pass that we’ve been promised, NewCorrespondent noticed that sitting around chatting to the attendant was Ringo Mendoza, a well known Lucha Libre fighter. Now over 60 years old, he is still getting in the ring, and also teaches at the Lucha Libre school.

We HAD to speak to him, and he was only too happy to talk. Apologies for the poor quality of the photographs – there’s not much light in underground parking lots.

Click here for the roar of the Lucha Crowd and here for a sense of what it’s like.
He pulls back his hair to show NewCorrespondent the bite scars on his forehead

Ringo Mendoza RG
NewCorrespondent: NC

RM: My name is Genaro Jacobo Contreras, but in the world of the spectacular Lucha Libre, for 39 years of professional fighting and 8 years of amateur fighting, I’ve always used the name Ringo Mendoza – here in Mexico, as well as Japan, Spain, and France. I’ve always been Ringo Mendoza.

NC: How many championships have you won?

RM: I started by winning a Middleweight championship in the West of the country, afterwards I returned to go to Guadalajara and I won the next stage up, but not quite the heavyweight. After four or five years I went up a category and won the worldwide middleweight championship, the world championship for the next stage up, and after that the world doubles championship, the national trio championship and the world championship for the NWA [US tournament], and the world championship of the Lucha Libre Council. In total, I’ve been fighting in world championships for 28 years.

NC: How many times have you shaved the heads of other fighters? [when a fighter wins in the Lucha Libra, he takes the ‘caballera’ of his opponent, meaning he shaves the head of the man he has beaten]

RM: In 39 years of fighting I’ve done it more than 80 times.

NC: And how many masks have you taken? [It is also common for the winner to damask his opponent if he is victorious].

RM: Masks? Only one, from the Texas Ranger, which I got here in Arena Mexico. After I won it from the Texas Ranger the Dog Aguayo [another fighter] was annoyed with me and he and I faced each other in a fight, and here in the Arena Mexico I shaved the head of Dog Aguayo.

NC: What are your most important victories?

RM: The Dog Aguayo, El Faraon, Sangre Chicana, Tony Salazar, Rubi Rubalcaba, el Angel Blanco (padre), Fabuloso Blondie, El Scorpio, Masacre, MS 1, Los Misioneros de la Muerte.

NC: What do you think of the lucha libre now compared to ten years ago?

RM: The Lucha has to be made up of set moves and responses, the techniques – if you make a move he makes another. The Lucha is never going to stop being so, if you watch the films of the Greeks, in these films you can see clearly how they use moves of the fight, what’s more is they use a lot of oil on the body so they can’t get a hold of each other.

Actually, the Lucha has changed a lot because there are many jumps now, they fight in the air, everything is going to evolve but the true Lucha Libre will never be lost – the moves and the responding moves.

NC: Why did you want to be a fighter when you were young?

RM: I didn’t want to be a fighter but my parents separated when I was five or six years old, and so I had to sell newspapers, load baskets, sell pens and ice-cream, shine shoes. During this time I met my teacher, Diablo Velazco – the teacher of the Mil Mascaras (thousand masks), de Alfonso Dantes, de Franco Colombo, del Faraon, del Solitario, del Satanico, de Alberto Munoz, de Atlantis, and many fighters from the school in Guadalajara. He passed on his teachings to me and I inherited all of his knowledge – all the movements and responses.

I’m not angry with the new fighters that do a lot of acrobatics – at the moment that’s the fashion. When that passes they’ll come to feel that – at the moment they can do those jumps but eventually they’ll hurt themselves and then they can’t do it – because of that the fighters don’t last as long as me – I’ve been a professional for 39 years.

NC: Can you show us the scars that you have on your head?

RM: Yes of course – these are bites from other fighters.

Conversation with a Nationalist Socialist in Mexico City

His belt clip is also an authentic issue from the German Army

La Lagunilla, one of the biggest markets in Mexico City, is a boiling mass of furniture, cheap jeans, cameras, shoes, tacos, antique fur coats, old photographs, contemporary art, beer stalls, BBQs and practically anything else that you can think of. Whilst ambling through the hundreds of stalls that spring up each weekend at the market, NewCorrespondent stumbled upon a number of stalls selling paraphernalia from the Second World War.

Not only was the store selling original and replica objects that are testament to one of the most horrific chapters in European history, but the store’s owner claimed to be a Nationalist Socialist himself.

This Story also appeared on NowPublic.

Here’s what he had to say:

AP = Augustin Perez
NC = NewCorrespondent

NC: What sorts of clients do you have? Do they come from a particular social class?

AP. We have all sorts – people from the lower classes to people who pay between 30 and 40 thousand pesos for a piece [40 pesos = $3,600 or £1,800].

NC: Is that the most you’ve sold things for?

AP: Yes, this is the most that I make. There are people with no money who just buy a little insignia for 30 pesos, little things, very cheap.

NC: What is the most expensive thing that you’ve sold?

AP: Various things – an official cap with a coat – we sold that for 40 thousand pesos.

NC: Where do these things come from?

AP: We get them all form the same circle of people, who like us are dedicated to collecting things from the Second World War. Some people a lot of the time don’t know what they have in their house, but they sell it. Original pieces have also come to me because people see that it has a Swastika and they don’t want it – in this way I’ve managed to get some Crosses of Honour from the German Army.

NC: Do you go to markets or private houses to get these things?

AP: Private houses and markets, this flea market specialises in antiques, there are other fleamarkets which have a lot of junk, lots of old metal – you can find really cool things.

NC: You go hunting through junk in el Bordo de Xochiaca, for example (another fleamarket)? Swastika keyrings are some of the more popular items

AP: There you can find everything, en la San Felipe (another fleamarket) you need to have a good eye for what you’re looking for and be able to recognize the original pieces. You find things that are of very good quality, that seem original, but they’re not.

NC: None of these pieces here are original?

AP: No, the only original thing that I have here is this photograph and this stamp. I always bring just one stamp (I leave the whole set at home so as not to damage it). The price of the item will change according to the state it’s in. What we see here is a replica of a German medal for man to man combat, it was one of the highest decorations, and not many wore it. After five fights of man on man combat in the war the army would award this medal. This is a replica; it sells for a hundred dollars.

In reference to this photo, the state of the piece influences the price. In this case photographs of the German Army are cheap, the price is between 15 and 25 dollars depending on the photograph. In the case of photos of concentration camps, or the SS…

NC: You have photos of the concentration camps?

AP: Yes, I have original photographs from Auswitch, not those that you’ve seen – actually photos of the camps.
Keyrings featuring Swatsikas are some of his most popular items

NC: How did you get them?

AP: The same – these pictures have been very well looked after, because they’re very fragile.

NC: How did you come to be doing this?

AP: When I enlisted in the Army, I made a friend (I was in Chiapas), and one day he showed me an insignia, which I liked a lot. And so we started to talk and he showed me his collection and from then he awakened in me a taste for these things. Before he introduced this to me I was ignorant of the reality of the things, and like all was against all of it. I didn’t know anything – like the whole world I hated the Nazis in my life I had never had contact with an original relic.

After some time I started to find original pieces and to investigate and came upon lots of rare books.

NC: Which books do you remember having read?

AP: The book “Global defeat” is one of the oldest that I’ve read, this is a really old item. The majority of people have read “The Diary of Anne Frank” – I think it’s a lie. Also “The ovens of Hitler”, “My Fight”, and when I read “Mein Kampf” for the first time, it was the commercial edition for the whole world, but compared to the original text it doesn’t have anything to say.

NC: Do foreigners buy things here?

AP: Yes, some do.

NC: Do you find that these things can be controversial?

AP: Yes, these things cause controversy, but there are a wide range of opinions. They are people who attack you even if they don’t understand things, but there are also people who attack you who do understand things. Personally, I enjoy discussing with experts even if they don’t agree with me. I can learn a lot from them, and am grateful to have a discussion with someone that knows what they’re talking about than with someone who says ‘this is racist, this is hate, this is bullshit.’ From the moment that a person starts to say this, they’re showing me their culture and the level of knowledge that they have. A real expert is never going to express things like that about art, collecting or other things.

I have some clients who are Jews, who buy a lot of things from me, to talk about this issue is really big, for a lot of people to be a Nazi is to wear a Swastika but behind all of this is an ideology and a way of thinking that if very different to what most people understand.

People who get it have read the Talmud, they’ve read the Torah, they know about Jewish customs and the Masons.

Strangely, the people who attack us here call us fascists, but the fascism of Mussolini is not the same thing as the National Socialism of Hitler. These people don’t know how to distinguish one from the other. In terms of fascism, many people think that it’s a new political idea, but fascism comes from old Roman Times. In Mexico, we have a strong sense of nationalism.

NC: Is there a fascist movement in Mexico?

AP: Yes, there is a fascist movement and national socialist movement in Mexico. The national movement that they’re driving here is concerned with patriotism, customs, traditions. Others groups exist that don’t understand how to apply National Socialism in Mexico. We have problems in Mexico with groups that claim to be Aryan, when here in Mexico they can’t talk about Aryanism because there is no such thing as a pure race.

NC: Are there groups in Mexico that consider themselves Aryan?

AP: Yes there are. It’s only a handful of people that because they’re quite white skinned, they think they’re Aryans.

Augustin Perez in his stall selling Second World War memorabilia, La Lagunilla, Mexico City

NC: What are your political beliefs?

AP: I’m a hundred per cent Nationalist Socialist.

After Augustin said this, an old man who was listening the whole time raised his arm in a Nazi salute, in agreement.

AP: I am going to repeat to you the words of the Furher: “The National Socialism is not an imported product. But National Socialism changes because it has to adapt to the country in which it is being practiced.” We don’t have to speak German, or practice German customs or traditions to be national socialists – we have our own customs in this country.

NC: Why did you leave the army?

AP: I finished my contract, and also the psychological impact of the army was very difficult. The things you see…war isn’t easy. In theory to shoot a gun at another person is something anyone can do. Anyone can take a gun and shoot it, but in practice it is something terrible, although the person that you have killed serves political reasons, in terms of humanity it’s horrible to kill someone. I was in active combat, 17 objectives in my service documents. My specialty was large weapons like rifles.

At this time, a young, thin white man arrived and Augustin told us that he is a client who collects rare insignias and caps.

One Man Dies and 24 are Injured in Huamantla’s Amateur Bullfighting Festival

One man died and 24 people, including one women, were injured in Huamantla’s amateur bullfighting festival in Mexico this weekend.

Each year, the small town of Huamantla in the state of Tlaxcala celebrates the day of the Virgin Mary by creating brightly-coloured designs and draping the streets in colour. But it’s the amateur bull-fighting event that follows the solemn religious procession rather than the local craftsmanship which makes the headlines.

Thousands of Mexicans – both locals and tourists – flock to the town either to sit in the stalls and watch their fellow country-men tempt death, or to challenge the bulls themselves.

The smell of wet paint is still in the air from the wooden hoardings which were erected the night before to protect the crowds from the marauding bulls, two of which are let into each of 18 streets in the town. Entire families from old men and women through to tiny babies made themselves comfortable before the spectacle began and paid for prime position.

Street vendors paced along the outside of the hoardings selling umbrellas to keep off the sun, nuts, soft drinks, ice-cream souvenir T-shirts, sweets, hats and fake, fuzzy bull’s horns.

Next to me, a couple of young men discussed some business matters as they supped from enormous, special edition bottles of Sol, one of the sponsors of this annual event. The heady mix of alcohol, hot sun and adrenalin creates a dangerous environment in which it’s very easy for things to go badly wrong, and many of the young men and women milling around in the midday sun are already drunk.

Suddenly a scream goes up, and the bulls are upon us – or so it feels. It’s the first time your humble correspondent has been so close to a 500 kilo, angry panting bull that is being mercilessly taunted by the frantic crowd, and with every pass its sweaty flanks brushed against the wooden hoardings – 50 cm between me and certain death.

The black beauty began by pacing the road, sizing up its adversaries. As it trotted along the side of the hoardings, people standing in the road scattered in every direction, some of them leaping onto the hoardings, others finding tiny gaps to squeeze through in the wooden barriers to get themselves out of harm’s way.

Taunters are all around – every man and his wife screamed at the animal as it stood bewildered and sweaty in the centre of the road. The first serious adversary arrived, dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt sporting a silhouette of a proudly standing toro. He dragged his feet behind him in the dusty road as he eyed his challenger, the bull switching his eyes from the solitary Mexican to the crowd and back again – unsure of who to focus on.

The aspiring matador opened his old, dusky pink cloak – probably passed down to him from a former glorious matador family member, or perhaps picked up in a junk shop – and the battle begins. The bull, already tired from running, plunged for the cloak and the Mexican matador moved graceful to the side. This exchange went on for some time, the bull alternating his attention between his adversary and the maddening crowd.

Finally, in an act of triumph, the Mexican kneels whilst making eye-contact with the enormous animal standing before him, reaching out and to the side to touch the tip of the bull’s horn before retreating in victory.

He will live to boast the tale – others won’t be so lucky.

Bullfighting can be as good as an orgasm, says wannabee matador

Jose Hormos is part of the collective that organises the event in Huamantla each year that sees the bulls let loose in the streets. He spoke to about his views and the event, whilst sitting on top of a casket that contained a 450 kilo bull.

Hurricane Dean gathers above Akumal, on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Hurricane Dean gathers above Akumal on the Yucatan Peninsula, August 2007, Mexico. Photo Courtesy of Lucy Gallagher, Mexiconservacion
This picture, courtesy of Lucy Gallagher from Mexiconservacion, shows Hurrican Dean gathering above Akumal, on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Click here for more pictures.

Bull-taunting in pictures

Anyone can try their hand at being a matador with the bulls, let loose in the streetsAnyone can try their hand at being a matador with the bulls in Huamantla, which are let loose in the streets as part of the celebrations for a religious festival.

See here for more pictures:

Bull-taunting in Huamantla

Anyone can try their hand at being a matador with the bulls, let loose in the streets

The town of Huamantla, located in the state of Tlaxcala south of Mexico City, celebrates the festival of the Virgin Mary each year. Local people create colourful designs on the ground using fresh cut flowers and sawdust to honor the day.

But it’s what comes after a solemn procession through the streets commemorating the festival that draws many of the 300,000 plus people to the town each year – a Mexican style running of the bulls.

Locals take their chances with around twenty bulls that are less loose in the town’s streets for a couple of hours, trying their hand at Spanish-style bullfighting, albeit with a rather amateur approach.

Some people start drinking early in the morning, and many of the audience and aspiring matadors were inebriated. Injuries and deaths are common – this year, one man died and there were 24 injuries.

This is just a taster of some of the footage we got – more to come after editing.

Reading the newspapers leaves blood on your hands…..

Walking around the streets of Mexico City, it’s hard to miss the corpses all around. I’m not talking about dead bodies on the street, but rather the bloodied corpses in the hands of street vendors and shoe shiners taking a break from their work to flick through their daily newspapers.

Accustomed to the rather gore-shy British press, it’s astounding to an untamed British eye how far some Mexican editors are prepared to go in their coverage of gun crime, murders and homicides in the country. Practically everyday the front pages of newspapers such as La Prensa carry the kind of pictures that most in Britain will never set eyes upon.

I’m not quite voyeuristic enough to put the picture on my page, but here’s a link to the front page story of today’s La Prensa – not for the feint-hearted.

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro on the Dangers for Journalists in Mexico

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro is a Mexican journalist who was imprisoned and tortured after publishing a book on a child pornography and prostitution ring in the country.

In her 2004 book, Los Demonios del Eden: el poder detras de la pornografia infantile (The Demons of Eden: the power behind child pornography), Cacho claimed there were links between the pedophile ring and a number of government officials, politicians, businessmen and drug traffickers in Mexico.

The publications of the book prompted repeated threats against her life and judicial harassment, and on December 16, 2005, Cacho was arrested and denied access to her lawyer and medicine. She spent the night in prison and was then released on bail of $9,900.

Amnesty International
, who has recognized Cacho for her journalistic work towards upholding human rights, says that in response to the intimidation tactics, Cacho filed a counter-suit for corruption and for violation of her human rights. She thus became the first woman in Mexico to file a federal suit against a governor, district attorney and a judge for corruption and attempted rape in prison. caught up with her at a recent Amnesty International press conference and spoke to her about her views on the current climate for journalists working in Mexico, recently rated the second-most dangerous country for journalists to work in after Iraq by Reporters Without Borders.