Today marks the 99th birthday of legendary Mexican lucha libre star Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta, better known as El Santo. While Huerta died more than 30 years ago, his influence is still massive, and is probably the most famous luchador of all time, along with his counterparts Mil Mascaras and Blue Demon. His solid silver mask is instantly recognizable, mainly because he never took it off — even at the dinner table or in private company. In fact, the only time the world purposely saw him without his mask is when he briefly removed it without advance warning while appearing on Mexican TV show Contrapunto in January 1984. He died of a heart attack the following week at age 66.
Even Google got into the birthday-wishes act with a pretty bonkers Google Doodle that depicts Santo as a real-life superhero, not only vanquishing his foes in the ring but also taking on the likes of mummies, aliens and dragons. Check out the whole animation here.
These images aren’t exactly far-fetched, either: Between 1958 and 1982, Santo starred in more than 50 Santo Vs. films where he battled everyone from Dr. Frankenstein to Dracula to, uh, she-wolves. Unfortunately, you’re not going to find any of these low-budget action movies on Netflix, but YouTube has your back.
While not currently in the WWE Hall Of Fame, Santo is in the Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame as well as the Wrestling Observer Hall Of Fame, and his accolades more than justify his inclusion: He is a 10-time singles champion between the middleweight and welterweight weight classes in CMLL (then known as EMLL), and he has an astonishing 37-0 record when putting his mask on the line, taking from the loser either their mask or their hair each time. While footage of his actual wrestling matches is hard to come by, luckily he wrestled in all of his film features, so you can still get a look at how beautiful his work was in the ring:
Feliz cumpleaños, El Santo! Here’s to 99 more years of being the most influential Mexican wrestler of all time.