CASSANDRO: QUEEN OF THE RING!

Flam­boy­ant Mex­i­can wrestler Cassandro (real name, Sual Ar­men­dariz) is the coun­try’s most fa­mous exótico fighter, nick­named the Lib­er­ace Of Lucha Li­bre. In 1992, Cassandro be­came the first exótico to hold a cham­pi­onship in the Univer­sal Wrestling As­so­ciati

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DNA: You’re called “The Lib­er­ace Of Lucha Li­bre.” How fab­u­lous!

Cassandro: Fans and co-work­ers have also named me “The Queen Of The Ring.” I do in­vest loads of money in my wrestling gear and make-up and gowns, so it’s an hon­our.

Tell us what ex­actly an exótico wrestler is and how it dif­fers from other wrestlers?

An exótico luchador is flam­boy­ant, el­e­gant and, for the most part, we are LGBTQ, con­tin­u­ing to prove that once in­side a ring I do my best to please fans and show our Mex­i­can cul­ture.

What’s the his­tory of the sport?

Lucha Li­bre came to Mex­ico around the 1930s. It be­came the sec­ond big­gest sport af­ter soc­cer and has been part of Mex­i­can tra­di­tion, honour­ing our ancestors, es­pe­cially our Mex­i­can na­tive tra­di­tion in our mask and wrestling gear. It’s about good ver­sus evil. Lucha Li­bre is a free ther­apy ses­sion for the fans!

How did you be­come in­volved?

I watched movies of it when I was a child and was hooked – but never thought I would be­come one. It’s my 30th an­niver­sary of wrestling this year. I’ve been pro­fes­sional since 1987 and I’m very grate­ful and feel blessed for my ca­reer and legacy. Con­grat­u­la­tions! You’ve also been called Mex­ico’s most fa­mous drag queen fighter. Do you iden­tify with the drag queen ti­tle?

I don’t iden­tify as a drag queen; I am an exótico. I have paved the way with tears, blood and sweat. I am hum­bled that most exóti­cos con­tact me for guid­ance and feed­back. Through­out my life I have been a big sup­porter of drag queens. They have my up­most re­spect as they are strong and live life on their own terms.

So we won’t see you on RuPaul’s Drag Race!

Ha! Not as a con­tes­tant. I am not a drag queen. Only when I wres­tle I do the glam­our look.

When you’re per­form­ing what can we ex­pect? The un­ex­pected! From when the door opens to me en­ter­ing the ring – it’s like Cirque du Soleil in the ring for me.

You also have a pro­tégé, Cas­sius The Neon Ex­plo­sion. What can you tell us about men­tor­ing him?

I met him in Lon­don a lit­tle while ago and started train­ing with him. My mes­sage is be your­self, al­ways do your best and demon­strate why you are in the ring. Never for­get the pain you go through to shine.

How easy is it to be openly gay in your sport?

It has been a rollercoaster. It’s never easy as we’re in a machista sport and cul­ture. That’s why I con­tinue to work dou­ble- or triple-times harder to prove we be­long. We are the diver­sity that makes Lucha Li­bre stronger.

Are there ro­mances be­tween the wrestlers? Oh­h­h­hhh yeahhh! That’s all I’ve dated, as well! We also be­come like a wrestling fam­ily.

Wrestling out­fits are a must-wear at gay dance par­ties. How do you feel about that?

It’s a beau­ti­ful thing hap­pen­ing, honour­ing some of us that are al­ready part of the his­tory. I have been made into cakes, piñatas, doors and wrestling fig­ures.

What’s your best/sex­i­est out­fit?

I’ve had many through the years, but I love what I call my Princess Diana gown in pur­ple. I have most of the in­put into [the de­sign of] my wrestling gear but I don’t make the out­fits my­self. I have a per­sonal seam­stress. My sex­i­est out­fit is a seethrough bathing suit I used as a Play­boy bunny. Are you ro­man­ti­cally at­tached?

Not for the mo­ment as my ca­reer makes it hard to be at home but my heart is filled with love.

Do you see your­self as a role model for the gay com­mu­nity? Not only our gay com­mu­nity. I bloody love my com­mu­nity. Last year I was honoured to be the Grand Mar­shall for our Pride Pa­rade and this year I will be the main speaker for Home­land Se­cu­rity And Agen­cies.

We imag­ine you must have a strict diet and ex­er­cise regime?

It’s su­per im­por­tant to main­tain a good diet with food and ex­er­cise, es­pe­cially car­dio. I ex­er­cise twice a day for car­dio and Lucha Li­bre train­ing is two-to­four-hours daily and five healthy meals.

Where can we see you per­form next?

As an in­de­pen­dent wrestler I work for many com­pa­nies, so I’m do­ing a come­back tour of Europe. I’ve been re­cov­er­ing from two ma­jor surg­eries on my left knee, which makes a to­tal of seven surg­eries on my body. There is much pain due to the force and im­pact of Lucha Li­bre. It’s wrestling not a beauty par­lour. Also com­ing up is the book of my life, which is al­most ready, a doc­u­men­tary, and I con­tinue to teach the next gen­er­a­tion. Grow and shine through ad­ver­sity to hap­pi­ness.

There is much pain due to the force and im­pact of Lucha Li­bre. It’s wrestling not a beauty par­lour.

MORE: To find out where to catch Cassandro live go to luchal­i­bre­world.co.uk

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