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El Mascarero | A mask maker’s journey, in and out of the wrestling ring

By Sarah Hashim-Waris

Clothes make the man, but what about the man who makes the clothes? … In this case, for characters in the colorful, uber-dramatic world of Mexican freestyle wrestling.

Manuel Quiroz is the go-to mask and gear maker for fighters across the globe, many in L.A.’s popular lucha libre circuit. His journey to be known as the “best of the best” as he puts it, is as finely detailed and at times dramatic as a character plot constructed for the very fighters he clothes.

When he was an aimless teenager in Aguascalientes, Mexico, Quiroz’s curiosity led him to toy around with his mother’s sewing machine. Soon after, he took up an apprenticeship with a local tailor, who doubled as a luchador in the wrestling ring.

Quiroz learned to sew wedding suits for grooms, before the wild personas and physical action of lucha libre enticed him. His sewing teacher became his mentor and wrestling trainer — a nurturing relationship the now 54-year-old mask maker holds dear decades later. “He gave me [advice],” Quiroz reflects with a thoughtful pause. “He gave me a lot.”

With that training, Quiroz moved up the local lucha libre ranks and gained renown as an amateur champion under character names such as El Cachorro, Reptilico and Atlantico. He even went pro in 1982. But after a big championship win, a follow-up match in Mexico City would change the fabric of the luchador’s life forever.

Full story: A mask maker’s journey, in and out of the wrestling ring

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