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Lucha libre brings the fight to the Southland

March 16, 2009 | 10:56 am

Lucha415

Lucha libre wrestling -- part gymnastics, part vaudeville -- is wildly popular in Mexico and gaining ground in the Southland as shown by Kevin Baxter's story and Francine Orr's audio slide show. Here's an excerpt from the story:

In Mexico, the popularity of lucha libre, literally "free struggle" or "free fight," is rivaled only by soccer. Wrestlers star not only in the ring, but in movies, comic books, commercials and magazines. Now the sport's following in this country is beginning to swell, driven by the desire of many assimilated Mexicans to reacquaint themselves with a part of their heritage and by the nostalgia more-recent arrivals have for their homeland.

"This is part of the culture. It's the fiesta of the people," says Donovan Garcia, a Whittier warehouse worker several border crossings removed from a Mexico City neighborhood where lucha was among the few distractions from crushing poverty.

  "Family, music, lucha libre and futbol. That's all there was," Garcia recalls in Spanish as he awaits the start of a two-hour wrestling card in a drafty community center in Cudahy.

Read the rest of the story here. View the slide show

Photo: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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