Famed Mexican luchador to wage last battle at the polls

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

Mexico City, Apr 19 (EFE).- He campaigns every day on the streets of Mexico City even though his luchador mask makes him instantly recognizable to all.

An iconic professional wrestler now aged 81, Tinieblas (Darkness) has decided to step outside the ring for the last bout of his career and compete to become the next mayor of Venustiano Carranza, one of this capital’s 16 boroughs.

“Why shouldn’t Tinieblas end his careeer with a flourish? Win or lose, I’m going to make this the beginning of the end for Tinieblas,” the professional wrestler told Efe on Monday while sitting at a street taco stand in the Colonia Janitzio neighborhood.

The famed and semi-retired luchador will wage one of the biggest battles of his life on June 6, when Mexicans head to the polls to elect lawmakers, governors and local officials nationwide.

Only this time the member of the newly formed, center-left Progressive Social Networks political grouping will be taking on the country’s traditional parties.

“I’ve gone to dark places where people don’t go because there’s a lot of crime and poverty. That’s where you need to be because the parties just go to important places and forget about (poor people),” he said.

Standing at two meters (6-foot-6) and weighing 130 kilos (286 pounds), he already cuts an imposing figure in Colonia Janitzio, a low-income neighborhood filled with shoe stores, greengrocers and other small businesses.

But his golden mask in the light of the sun makes him instantly recognizable as Tinieblas, a popular luchador who is even the subject of a comic book series in Mexico.

Going door to door, Tinieblas explains to local residents that if elected he won’t lock himself in an office and distance himself from voters.

“I have no need for power, to earn lots of money. Fortunately, people have supported me and I’ve done well. I’m not rich, but I live well,” the unusual candidate said, adding that “the honesty and simplicity” he experienced in lucha libre is missing in Mexican politics.

Tinieblas, who interrupted a budding acting career when given the chance to become a professional wrestler, says he still remembers a piece of advice he received from the greatest luchador of them all, El Santo (The Saint), about the need to establish a connection with fans. “Be down-to-earth with people, take photos with them, listen to them when they have a problem. That’s how you’ll gain their trust,” he said.

The candidate now is following that advice to the letter, talking selfies with people of all ages on the campaign trail.

“It’s a big surprise, I didn’t know people like them were campaigning,” said Elsa Chavez, a resident of Colonia Janitzio who told Efe she took her children to watch Tinieblas in a lucha libre match years ago.

A shroud of mystery has surrounded the real identity of Tinieblas, who like many luchadores wears a mask at all times, although he has pledged to remove it if victorious on June 6.

He said he’ll put it right back on though because “people are going to want to take photos.” EFE


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