Mexico City: The flying kicks that make lucha libre one of Mexico's most popular events turned into tragedy after a wrestler died in the ring, sparking a debate about the safety of fighters.
Pedro Aguayo Ramirez, known as "Hijo del Perro Aguayo" (Son of the Dog Aguayo), collapsed and hung over the middle rope on Saturday after receiving two feet to the upper body from Oscar Gutierrez, "Rey Misterio Jr."
A man delivers a wreath during the funeral of professional wrestler Pedro Aguayo Ramirez aka "Perro Aguayo Jr" in Guadalajara city. Pic/ AFP
It took almost two minutes for the fight to stop and for Aguayo, 35, to get medical attention at the arena in the northwestern border city of Tijuana. Medics said they had been treating three other people in the dressing room.
He was taken to a hospital, where he arrived alive and died after doctors tried for 90 minutes to revive him, the Baja California state prosecutor's office said. He died of a neck injury. Prosecutors spokesman Jose Manuel Yepiz told AFP that the death may be treated as manslaughter but that investigators have yet to make a decision. Gutierrez will likely be asked to give a statement to prosecutors.
The late wrestler was the son of the popular luchador Pedro Aguayo Damian, "Perro Aguayo," who attended his son's funeral in the western city of Guadalajara with other wrestlers on Sunday. Aguayo's death made the front pages of sports dailies, which raised questions about the risks wrestlers face.
"Medical attention should come a little quicker," the 54-year-old wrestler Daniel Lopez Lopez, known as "Satanico," said at Aguayo's funeral. "Above all, promoters should limit the action in the ring a little bit because right now they are risking lives with terrible spins," he said.
"It's proven that (wrestlers) are very hurt after three or five years." Yepiz said that while the death appears to be a case of manslaughter, the fact that it happened during a sporting event must be taken into account. "Every luchador knows the risks of this type of sport," Yepiz told AFP.
Meanwhile, videos of the deadly match have gone viral online and are already being sold as pirated DVDs in Mexican markets. "Mexican lucha libre is in mourning over the death of one of its star talents," the AAA pro wrestling association said in a statement.