Santo, along with Blue Demon & Mil Máscaras, is one of the most famous and iconic of all Mexican luchadores, and has been referred to as one of "the greatest legends in Mexican sports". His wrestling career spanned nearly five decades, during which he became a folk hero and a symbol of justice for the common man through his appearances in comic books and movies. He is said to have popularized professional wrestling in Mexico just as Rikidōzan did in Japan and Hulk Hogan did in the United States.
Pro wrestling career
Accounts vary as to exactly when and where he first wrestled competitively, either in Arena Peralvillo Cozumel on 28 June 1934, or Deportivo Islas in the Guerrero colony of Mexico City in 1935, but by the second half of the 1930s, he was established as a wrestler, using the names Rudy Guzmán, El Hombre Rojo (the Red Man), El Demonio Negro (The Black Demon) and El Murcielago II (The Bat II). The last name was a rip-off of the name of a famous wrestler Jesus Velazquez named "El Murcielago" (The Bat), and after an appeal by the Bat to the Mexican boxing and wrestling commission, the regulatory body ruled that Guzmán could not use the name.
In the early 1940s, Guzmán married María de los Ángeles Rodríguez Montaño (Maruca), a union that would produce 10 children; their names were Alejandro, María de los Ángeles, Héctor Rodolfo, Blanca Lilia, Víctor Manuel, Miguel Ángel, Silvia Yolanda, María de Lourdes, Mercedes, and the youngest child Jorge, who also became a famous wrestler in his own right, El Hijo del Santo (Son of Santo). In 1942, Rodolfo's manager, Don Jesús Lomelí, was putting together a new team of wrestlers, all dressed in silver, and wanted Rodolfo to be a part of it. He suggested three names, El Santo (The Saint), El Diablo (The Devil), or El Angel (The Angel), and Rodolfo chose the first one. On 26 June, aged 24, he wrestled at the Arena Mexico for the first time as El Santo, although he later was known simply as "Santo". Under this new name he quickly found his style.
One of Santo's greatest matches was in 1952, when he fought a tag-team known as Los Hermanos Shadow (which consisted of famed luchadors Blue Demon and the Black Shadow). Santo beat and unmasked Black Shadow in the ring, which triggered Blue Demon's decision to become a técnico, as well as a legendary feud between Blue Demon and Santo that culminated in Santo's defeat in a well-publicized series of matches in 1952 and again in 1953. Although they appeared together in a number of action/adventure films, their rivalry never really ended in later years since Santo always remembered his defeat at Blue Demon's hands.
By the early 1980s El Santo slowed down his in ring activities leading up to his inevitable retirement. His farewell tour was announced for August and September 1982. the first of three events took place on August 22, 1982 at the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City. On that night El Santo teamed up with El Solitario to take on Villano III and Rokambole in a match that naturally saw the legends win. After the match Villano and Rokamble lifted El Santo up on their shoulders as he received the adulation of the sold-out arena. The following Sunday El Santo appeared at Arena México where he teamed up with Gran Hamada to defeat Villano I and Scorpio, Jr. Santo's last match took place on September 12, 1982, a week before his 65th birthday. In his last match ever El Santo teamed up with Gory Guerrero who came out of retirement to reform "La Pareja Átomica" as they teamed up with Huracán Ramirez and El Solitario. Their opponents included one of El Santo's biggest rivals in Perro Aguayo as well as El Signo, Negro Navarro and El Texano. True to the legend of El Santo he won his last match and retired as the hero he always portrayed in the ring and on the screen. His retirement tour was also used to introduce Santo's son Jorge as the next generation El Santo as he was ringside at each show wearing the silver mask and being introduced as El Hijo del Santo.
Just over a year after his retirement El Santo was a guest on Contrapunto, a Mexican television program and, completely without warning, removed his mask just enough to expose his face, in effect bidding his fans goodbye. It is the only documented case of Santo ever removing his mask in public. Santo died from a heart attack on February 5, 1984, at 9:40 p.m., a week after his Contrapunto TV appearance. As per his wishes, he was buried wearing his famous silver mask. His funeral is considered one of the biggest in Mexican history as fans and friends flocked to see "el Enmascarado de Plata" (the Silver-Masked Man) one last time. After his death a statue of El Santo was erected in his home town of Tulancingo and other statues have been created since then.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
Championships and accomplishments
- Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Mexican National Middleweight Championship (4 times)
- Mexican National Tag Team Championship (2 times) - with Rayo de Jalisco
- Mexican National Welterweight Championship (2 times)
- NWA World Middleweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA World Welterweight Championship (2 time)
- WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2018)