El Santo, the wrestler who never took off his mask


El Santo was a lucha libre wrestler famed throughout Mexico for his steadfast refusal to ever remove his mask in public. In a career spanning nearly 50 fucking years, El Santo removed his mask only once, after he retired before near-immediately dying of a heart attack. 

The story goes that from the moment he stepped into the ring for the first time in the mid 1930’s until the moment he retired in 1982, El Santo never once took off his mask in public. El Santo was so serious about this that even his fellow wrestlers reported having no idea what the fuck he looked like, revealing that he arrived at work each day already wearing the mask and would wait until everyone else was gone so that he could get a shower. El Santo would then dutifully put the mask back before heading home, you know, just in case any fans were hanging around outside.

Pictured: El Santo. We think.

As he became more famous and word of his dedication to ensuring that his face remained concealed at all times spread, El Santo only become more careful in hiding his identity from prying eyes. At first El Santo’s paranoia was kind of cute, with him doing things like refusing to agree to interviews unless they interviewed him wearing the mask. The funny part about this is that El Santo would insist upon this even if the interviewer didn’t want to take his picture or film him because in El Santo’s eyes, even one person seeing his face was one person too many.

This culminated in El Santo going all Tony Stark and making himself multiple masks, each created masks in anticipation of a hyper-specific scenario. For example, El Santo had a thinner mask so that he’d be more comfortable during summer months and a variation with a larger mouth-hole that’d let him eat without spilling shit all down his chin. Ever vigilant, El Santo would carry multiple masks on him at all times so that he could change them on the fly to suit his needs he was known to occasionally wear 2 or even 3 masks at once while wrestling so that they couldn’t be snatched off his head.

Something that wouldn’t have been necessary if he had the Ox Talisman.

But we’re not even at the good stuff yet because you see, El Santo became eventually be so famous in Mexico that he started getting offered movie roles. Movies roles he predictably accepted on a single condition, that he never remove his fucking mask regardless of how little sense it made in regards to the plot.

For example, in one movie they offered El Santo a bit role as a local police chief. Not a police chief who wrestled in his spare time mind you, but an ordinary police chief who did ordinary police chief things. Despite this, El Santo still wore his mask in every single scene. In another film, El Santo played a luchador, which well, you’d think he’d be perfectly suited for. However, a scene in the film called for El Santo to remove his mask and kiss a lady he rescued. Unwilling to do this, El Santo hired a stand-in to perform the scene instead, doubling down by making them stand with their back to camera. Yes, you read that right, El Santo even made his fucking stunt double hide his face.

On occasions where hiding his face simply wasn’t possible, El Santo still managed to conceal his identity through a combination of ingenuity and a total lack of giveable fucks. For example, in the 1970’s, El Santo sued a Mexican comic writer for jacking his likeness. Said writer assumed that El Santo would never do this because doing so would require him testifying in open court without his his mask. El Santo wasn’t happy about this and knowing he couldn’t attend court in his mask, he shaved his head, covered his face in bandages and put on a giant pair of sunglasses. When the judged asked him what the fuck was going on, El Santo explained that he’d been injured in a wrestling accident.

As if anyone could hurt this much man.

This stunt led to a rumor that El Santo’s identity was such a closely guarded secret that his passport photo showed him wearing his mask. A rumor El Santo happily played up to, asking the Mexican government for a prop passport showing just that. The truth however is that El Santo owned a regular passport just like everybody else, though he’d usually only take his mask off for a single customs official in a private room set aside just for him.

El Santo’s commitment was such that even after he retired, he kept his mask on when he walked around in public. In fact, we know of literally a single occasion on which El Santo publicly removed his mask, on a TV show some 10 days before he died of a random heart attack. After that, El Santo never took his mask off again because oh yeah, they buried him wearing it, meaning his skeleton will be wearing it forever.