Guest Author - Vance Rowe
Rodolfo Guzman Huerta aka El Santo is to Mexican wrestling what Hulk Hogan is to American Pro wrestling except that Santo knew more wrestling holds than Hogan. Popularity wise, they were equal. Mr. Huerta was born on September 23, 1917 in Hidalgo, Mexico. He started his illustrious wrestling career just a couple of months before his seventeenth birthday and appeared under his own name. It wasn’t until 1942 when he donned the famous silver mask and began the rest of his career as El Santo. His last match as El Santo was in1982 and ended a forty-eight year wrestling career. He was 64 years old when he retired.
His popularity began to soar in 1952 when a comic was created by Jose G. Cruz and featured Santo as a crime fighter and he also battled monsters. The comic went to four volumes and ran for thirty-five years with the last printing in 1987. Santo also appeared in fifty-two movies, known as Luchador films. A luchador film can be compared to an American B movie or an Italian Spaghetti Western. They were cheaply made and contained a lot of violence. Arguably, Santo’s movie career picked up with his third film “Santo vs. the Zombies”. It was also the first time in film history when a movie portrayed a person being a professional wrestler and a superhero.
However, many will say that his best movie was “Santo vs. The Vampire Women” or “Santo vs. las Mujeres Vampiro”. This movie was one of four of his films that were dubbed in English and shown outside of Mexico. It also gave him more of a background story. Other famous masked luchadors that followed Santo into the movies were Mil Mascaras and the Blue Demon. Santo even appeared in some movies with these wrestlers. He made his last film in 1982. Ironically, that was the same year he retired from wrestling. He retired from wrestling just a week before his 65th birthday.
In 1984, Santo appeared on a television show in Mexico called: “Contrapunto”. On that show, and as a surprise to everyone, he took off his mask to reveal his face for the very first time ever in a public forum of any kind. Ironically, just about a week later, on February 5, 1984, Santo died of a heart attack. He was sixty-six years old. Professional wrestling lost a true legend that day and according to his wishes, he was buried with his silver mask on.