Mexico’s wrestlers work to stay fit under quarantine

By Juan Manuel Ramirez G.

Mexico City, May 2 (efe-epa).- Like other athletes, the protagonists of the spectacle that is Mexican wrestling have been idled by the Covid-19 lockdown. With time on their hands, wrestlers are doing their best to stay in shape in hopes of a quick return to the ring.

Inside a small apartment in Mexico City’s La Merced neighborhood, the wrestler known as Super Muñeco (Super Doll) dons a mask and comfortable clothes for his daily workout.

“We wrestlers are not accustomed to stop. And for an athlete, a routine of doing nothing is terrible,” the 38-year veteran of the game known as “lucha libre” (freestyle wrestling) says.

Now, Super Muñeco and his fellow competitors have been put on the canvas by the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 200,000 lives worldwide.

But while uncertain about the impact of the shutdown on his own career, he remains confident that the sport will survive, telling Efe: “Wrestlers may disappear, but lucha libre will never disappear.”

Super Muñeco acknowledges that being stuck at home is taking a toll.

“It’s difficult to be locked up,” he says, adding that he is careful to put on protective gear on his rare forays to buy food and other necessities.

Super Muñeco and his brother, a fellow wrestler who goes by the handle El Sanguinario Jr. (Bloodthirsty Jr.), have set aside a room to exercise together.

“As professionals, we have to do something, to move,” Super Muñeco explains.

Wrestlers got a foretaste of the current situation in 2009, when the H1N1 flu pandemic prompted promoters to suspend bouts, leaving the fighters high and dry.

Payaso Coco Rojo (Red Coconut Clown) agrees with Super Muñeco that lucha libre will survive Covid-19 just as it survived H1N1.

As evidence of the sport’s popularity, both men point to continuing brisk sales of masks, T-shirts and other wrestling merchandise.

In the course of his 35 years in lucha libre, Payaso Coco Rojo has developed a lucrative sideline in helping other competitors heal from injuries. Another source of income is Expo Mascaras, which he launched 11 years ago as lucha libre’s answer to the Comic-Con phenomenon.

Coco Rojo told Efe that while he continues to exercise, he is focused more on following a special diet to avoid putting on weight.

“Nothing bad is going to happen to us from not going to the gym for one or two months, but something bad could happen from the virus,” he said with a laugh.

On Mexico City’s south side, near the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, lives Ciclon Ramirez Jr., whose 14 years in lucha libre make him a youngster compared with the likes of Super Muñeco and Payaso Coco Rojo.

He is as eager as they are to get back in the ring, but Ramirez stresses that to make a return to normal possible, “everyone must comply with the norms that have been ordered.”

Ciclon is also confident that the fans will be back.

“When the arenas re-open the people will be there and if there’s no money, the promoters will have to be creative to put people in the arenas,” he said.

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