Octavio Gaona (1907–1996) was a Mexican Luchador, or professional wrestler, known for his participation in the first ever high-profile Lucha de Apuesta, or wager fight, against Murciélago Velázquez. Gaona held both the Mexican National Middleweight Championship and the Mexican version of the World Middleweight Championship. Gaona's son, adopted son, grandson and great grandson have all or are all professional wrestlers.

Professional wrestling career

Octavio Gaona made his professional wrestling debut in 1934, wrestling for various small promoters in Guanajuato and surrounding states. By 1937 Gaona wrestled full-time for Salvador Lutteroth's Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL). On February 6, 1937 Gaona defeated Black Guzmán to win the vacant Mexican National Middleweight Championship. Gaona held the title until September 2, 1938 where Firpo Segra won it but would regain it on January 1, 1939. Gaona's second reign ended just over a month later on February 9, 1939. The loss, however, was not a step down, instead he defeated Gus Kallio to win both the National Wrestling Association World Middleweight Champion and the Mexican version of the World Middleweight Championship. Gaona's title win helped establish the World Middleweight title in Mexico. Gaona unified both titles, only defending them together. On February 4, 1940 Gaona lost the titles to Tarzán López.

Shortly after the title loss Octavio Gaona took part in one of the most pivotal events in Lucha Libre as he took part of the very first Lucha de Apuesta match. After a long buildup of a storyline between Gaona and Murciélago Velázquez, one of the top Rudos ("Bad guy" or Heel character) of the time, Gaona challengede Velázquez to face him in a match where the masked wrestler would "bet" his mask on the outcome of the match. Since Velázquez was so much lighter than Gaona he requested a further condition before he would sign the contract: Octavio Gaona would have to put his hair on the line as well, creating the first match in Mexico where a two wrestlers "bet" either their hair or their mask. On July 14, 1940 Octavio Gaona defeated Murciélago Velázquez, forcing him to unmask after the match in what would become a Lucha Libre tradition. Since then Apuesta matches have become headliners all over Mexico, especially winning the mask of an opponent is seen as prestigious, the more famous the masked man is, the bigger the victory for the opponent is. In 1942 Velázquez would get his revenege on Gaona when he defeated him to win the vacant Mexican National Middleweight Championship, although the victory could never equal the loss of the mask.

By the end of the 1940s Gaona's wrestling career had slowed down, especially with the birth of his son Octavio Gaona, Jr. Gaona, Jr. would go on to become a professional wrestler, as would his son Arturo Gaona and Arturo's son Arturo Gaona, Jr. making the Gaona family a four generation wrestling family. Octavio Gaona also adopted Francisco Ruiz Arreola, who would wrestle under the name "Tamba", nicknamed "the Flying Elephant". Gaona came out of retirement in 1972, in his late sixties, defeating Tamba in a Lucha de Apuesta match to unmask him.

Octavio Gaona died in 1996.

Championships and accomplishments

Lucha de Apuesta record

Wager Winner Loser Location Date Notes
Mask Octavio Gaona Murciélago Velázquez Mexico City, Mexico 01940-07-18July 18, 1940
Hair Octavio Gaona Chale Romero Mexico City, Mexico 01964-07-01July 1964  
Mask Octavio Gaona Tamba Mexico City, Mexico 01972-01-011972

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