Mexico's legendary luchador El Santo gets a Google doodle for his 99th birthday

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Thirty-two years after his death, Mexico's most famous wrestler of all time continues to flex his muscles as a pop-culture phenomenon whose fame will never die.

The legendary masked luchador known as El Santo, who would be turning 99 today, is being honored with his own Google doodle.

As a child and teenager, Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta played football, baseball, practiced jujitsu and eventually got into wrestling. By the 1930s he was a well known figure in the world of lucha libre, but it was a decade later that he adopted the name and identity of El Santo.


“When I decided to mask myself I also thought of changing my style,” he told Mexican daily La Jornada in one of his last interviews, just a few days before his death in 1984. “Then I wanted to use the name of Ángel, but I finally decided on Santo. I was also inspired by an American wrestler that used the name Iron Mask.”

The beloved luchador would soon appear in a dozens of whacky, low-budget B movies where he would rescue voluptuous women from hoards of zombies, mommies and vampires. His broad, hairless chest and silver mask became symbols of Mexican machoness.


The day El Santo removed his mask in Mexico's most watched news broadcast became a magic moment in Mexican television history (rumor has it he even ate with his mask on to protect his identity at all times).

He died of a heart attack in 1984, and was reportedly buried in his wrestling mask.

But his legend lives on in the form of toys, comic books and cartoons. To most Mexicans, he’s a hero on par with Zorro.

There's statues in his honor in both his hometown of Tulancingo, Hidalgo and Mexico City, and now a Google doodle to celebrate his enduring fame.