El Santo, legendary Mexican wrestler, commemorated in Google doodle

Rodolfo Guzmn Huerta, who popularized lucha libre around the world, represented justice and the fight against evil, Google wrote on death anniversary

Well done, Google. The internet giant gets major props today as their daily doodle commemorates Rodolfo Guzmn Huerta, commonly known as El Santo, the legendary Mexican wrestler who popularized the sport across five decades and gained cult status throughout the globe.

He would have been 99 years old.

El Santo helped fuel the growth and reputation of lucha libre throughout the world and thanks to its distinctive personalities and vibrant costumes, the sport appeals to fans of both wrestling and pop culture. Directly translated as free fight, lucha libre is a cultural institution in Mexico, making it one of the most popular sports in the country and since its origin in the early 1930s, the sports governing body, the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) is the longest-running active professional promotion company in the world.

Univision Noticias (@UniNoticias) September 23, 2016

El Santo cumplira hoy 99 aos y Google lo celebra con un #GoogleDoodle del legendario luchador mexicano. https://t.co/hrhHdoGGcH pic.twitter.com/5Rh56K4ApH

Through his appearance in film and as the subject of many comic books, he became a cultural icon, representing justice and the fight against evil, said Google in a statement. Legend has it that El Santo never removed his silver mask even at home and had a special mask for eating. He went to great lengths to protect his identity, particularly when traveling.

Guzmn took the name of El Santo, or the Saint, after reading Alexandre Dumass novel, The Man in the Iron Mask, and was inspired by the prisoner in the story who was forced to wear a cloth mask made out of black velvet.

It wasnt until 1984, two years after he officially retired from the ring, when he finally revealed his identity on Contrapunto, a Mexican talkshow. One week later, El Enmascarado de Plata, or the silver-masked man, died after suffering a heart attack while performing onstage. His funeral was one of the biggest in Mexican history, attended by family, friends, and his many fans, remembers Google. Just as he wished, he was buried alongside his silver mask.

One of his most popular movies was 1962s Las Mujeres Vampiro, or Vampire Women, in which El Santo is called upon to rescue a professors daughter who has been kidnapped by vampires. El Santo made 52 movies, four of which were dubbed into English for wider release.

Poster
Poster for the film Las Mujeres Vampiro. Photograph: Handout

Another classic, and his most successful film financially, was Las Momias de Guanajuato, or The Mummies of Guanajuato, which also co-starred the other legendary wrestlers Blue Demon and Mil Mscaras. Many Mexi-movie aficionados consider it the greatest luchador movie ever made.

His son followed in his footsteps and eventually became El Hijo del Santo, or El Santos Son. He was the only one out of El Santos 10 children who became a professional wrestler, gaining cult status in both Mexico and Japan. El Hijo retired two years ago due to serious spinal injuries.

El Santo was more than just a wrestler; he was a Mexican hero who not only elevated the reputation of lucha libre, but became immortalized as a Latin symbol of power and heroism. His brand has been adapted across different mediums, from comic books to cartoons, and his work continues to influence the way sport intertwines with entertainment.

Read more: www.theguardian.com