Cartel allegedly killed 2 lucha libre wrestlers in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities confirmed Monday that a “lucha libre” wrestler was found dead over the weekend in the north-central state of Guanajuato.

The state’s attorneys office said the body of a wrestler known as “Maremoto” or “Tidal Wave” was found Saturday behind a National Guard barracks in the town of Irapuato.

And local pro wrestling promoters canceled a match scheduled for Sunday, citing the deaths of “Maremoto” and another wrestler known by his ring name, “Lepra” or “Leprosy.”

“Out of respect for the loved ones of our colleagues Lepra and Maremoto, and as a sign of mourning, our Sunday August 28 event is cancelled,” match promoters Promociones Freseros Brothers said in a statement.

The prosecutor’s office had previously confirmed “Lepra’s” death. Local media gave his real name as Salvador Garcia and said he may have once worked in the municipal government of Irapuato.

Because the sport is not well paid, at least locally, many wrestlers work day shifts.

The two men were reportedly abducted in Irapuato last week.

Over the weekend, photos circulated on social media of a banner signed by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel which was found near one of the bodies.

The banner accused the pair – along with a third wrestler known by his stage name “Juventud Rebelde” who was shot in May – of working for a rival gang. The Jalisco Cartel is known by its initials, CJNG.

“To colleagues in the Lucha Libre profession, the CJNG has nothing against you personally,” the banner read. “The events involving ‘Juventud Rebelde ‘Jerry’, Lepra Salvador and Maremoto were direct attacks.”

The banner claimed they were involved with the Santa Rosa de Lima gang, which has been fighting turf battles against the Jalisco Cartel in Guanajuato for years.

Lucha libre has suffered in recent years, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, when nearly all matches were called off, and unusually high numbers if wrestlers died of COVID-19. But unlike norteño musicians, lucha libre wrestlers had so far largely escaped the violence of the drug cartels.

Lucha libre wrestling is a typical Mexican pastime. It is the second most watched sport in the country, after football.

The sport features theatrical stunts and a tradition of “rudos” – mean bad guys who break the rules – and “tecnicos” – the handsome good guys.

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