many entrepreneurs from Leon, in the state of Guanajuanto,
Don Antonio H Martinez, knew how to treat leather
and make it into attractive footwear. What the others did
not know, however, was how to specialize this skill and create
a successful industry beyond even his own imagination.
After a few years working in a textile company, he established
his own footwear company catering primarily to boxers. During
the 1930s, a new sport from the US became increasingly popular
and Don Antonio wanted to find out more.
In no time, he became a huge fan of lucha libre, never missing
any matches. Don Antonio particularly admired a popular wrestler
named Charro Aguayo, and managed to become friends with him,
following his matches, even carrying his bags and helping
him during the fights. Eventually, they became very close
and Charro asked him to make some boots just for him to use
during the matches.
He needed special shoes with thicker soles to support all
the movements that a wrestler needed to make, and Don Antonio
was able to produce them very much to his liking.
From this special friendship, a new standard of wrestling
boots began. Soon everyone wanted the same quality and design
that Don Antonio perfected and his company quickly specialized
in making these popular boots.
His influence did not stop there; the story continues with
a life-changing visit by an Irishman called *The Cyclone McKey,*
who was one of the hottest wrestlers at the time.
in 1933, the Cyclone requested that Don Antonio make a mask
that covered his face that was also difficult for his opponents
to take off. He accepted the challenge. He took a series of
measurements of his head and promised to deliver it in a few
days. Unfortunately, the mask was not ready in time and the
worst part was that the material he used (from goats) did
not stretch to fit his face the first time. Thus, it was a
failure. They fought over the mask so passionately that the
unsatisfied customer ended up throwing his money on the floor
and walking out the door.
The business of the masks was finished until one day much
later, The Cyclone came back to the factory with a big smile
on his face. He returned to acquire six new masks! Don Antonio
didn’t understand why the fighter came back, after he
had rejected his product earlier. However, not only did he
ask for the masks, but he also offered to pay for the labor
and materials from the first mask as well as pay more for
the new ones. Finally, they reached an agreement.
According to the storyteller, Don Antonio knew where he had
made mistakes and decided to take new measurements of the
fighter’s head, 17 altogether, which today constitutes
the best kept secret of the company.
The reason that the Irish fighter returned was because he
traveled around the world and could not find any other craftsman
who could do the same kind of work as the man from Guanajuanto.
In fact, many people who saw the mask assured him that nobody
could make a mask with that quality, so the fighter quickly
returned to Don Antonio.
final product became a mask that fit like a glove, with material
that fit better after each use. The rest is history. Many
famous Mexican fighters, including Murcielago Velasquez and
El Santo, became famous with their unique masks.
The masks now define the sport of Lucha Libre, which is one
of the most well-loved traditions in Mexico and now popular
around the world.