#46 - Lucha Libre Fans

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What is it about those high-flying, high-energy performers that get fans so worked up? And why isn’t there more of this amazing sport elsewhere in the world (perhaps there is)? This week, we’re talking about fans of Lucha Libre!

Next week, we’ll be looking at the Korean Wave, specifically, at fans of K-pop (in Brazil)?!

Episode outline

Fandom Facts

Origins:
Lucha Libre, literally “Free fight” in English, refers to a form of professional wrestling developed in Mexico. It is often characterized by its colourful masks, rapid moves, and “high-flying” maneuvers. Lucha libre wrestlers are known as luchadores (literally, wrestlers).

Lucha libre wrestling dates back to 1863 during the French intervention into Mexico, developed by Enrique Ugartechea (the first Mexican wrestler) from Greco-Roman wrestling. However, it probably wasn’t until the 1930s with the foundation of the Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestling Enterprise) that the sport gained a national foothold.

It wasn’t until the 1940s when the iconic idea of the masked wrestler entered into the sport. In 1942, a silver-masked wrestler, El Santo (The Saint) made his debut in Mexico City and won an 8-man battle royal. His career spanned nearly five decades and he became a folk hero and symbol of justice for the common man.

Fandom Origins:

Names:
- Lucha Libre
- Luchador
- Mexican Wrestling

Most Active:
It’s always hard to measure the activity of a fandom; looking at Google Trends data since 2004, the sport has enjoyed a lot of variation in popularity. It would make sense to guess that it is less popular now than towards the 1950s and 1960s (given the proliferation of media around characters such as El Santo), but even looking at the Google Trends data, there have been ebbs and flows in popularity. In particular, a rise in interest around October 2006, and again in January 2016.

Size of Fandom:

… the biggest two or three lucha libre events of the year can attract crowds of 17,000, most weekly fights see attendances of between 1,000 and 3,000 people, with tickets costing about 300 pesos.
BBC - Mexican wrestling grapples to secure a bright future

As a rough estimate, there are probably at least a hundred thousand fans of Lucha Libre. However, there may be overlap with other wrestling fandoms.

Around the world:
Interest in Lucha Libre is likely more global than from its outset. Though the majority of interest in the sport stems from Mexico, there is a lot of interest from other tropical (and in particular, latin) parts of the world: Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Bolivia, for example.

Related fandoms:
- WWE
- Japanese Wrestling

Last Episode’s Famous Last Words

Z
Why are masks important to Lucha Libre?

T
In mask, out of mask… Bruce Wayne like character, never in the same place at the same time.

G
In American Wrestling, working on a limb … always the left side. Lucha Libre: always the right side. Why?

The Verdict

T is out.

Z is out… but is going to check out Lucha Underground

G is in!

This week’s spotlight

Wrestling for Charity
Located in North Carolina and founded in 2005, WFC is a not-for-profit that raises money for a variety of different organizations.

The mission of Wrestling For Charity LLC is to bring a positive fan and family experience to wrestling enthusiasts, while raising money and awareness for community organizations and causes.
Wrestling for Charity - Homepage

Famous Last Words

This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, K-pop (in Brazil)!

Z
K-pop is so popular in Brazil … after door was opened by K-dramas.

G
K-pop is popular in Brazil because of a song or band uses Brazillian rhythms (or that appeal to Brazillian listeners).

T
K-pop became popular in Brazil because of a legal ban that was lifted, and K-pop happened to be popular among that.

Where can you find us online?

We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:

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  • You can check out our website; that will mostly bring you back to this stuff.
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  • … You’re still looking for ways to reach out? You can also use the hashtag #fanthro on Twitter!

What is “Fanthropological”?

How did you read this far without asking this question?!

Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.

Who is “The Nickscast”?

We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.

Ahem

We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.

We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.

Credits

Sources

Music / Sound

  • All music and sound for this week’s episode were provided by Nick Green!

Artwork

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