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History of the First Wrestling Mask

Like 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.

Then 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.

The 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.

 
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