Rolling out the wel­come mat for lucha night

North Toronto Post - - News - — Todd Aal­gaard

Toronto, it’s safe to say, is ready to rum­ble.

Why? For one, the Mex­i­can hol­i­day Cinco de Mayo is right around the cor­ner, and LuchaTO has brought the colour, pageantry and sheer athleticism of Mex­i­can-style wrestling to Toronto.

Do­ing so, or­ga­niz­ers said, isn’t about in­tro­duc­ing a new sport­ing event. It’s about cul­ture, cel­e­brat­ing a dis­tinct and rec­og­niz­able as­pect of the Mex­i­can world in one of the most mul­ti­cul­tural cities on earth.

And the way ex-wrestler and founder Jor­dan Mar­ques de­scribed it, that’s been the idea all along. “What we’re try­ing to do is bring Toronto the main sta­ples of Latin cul­ture,” Mar­ques said, re­fer­ring to the group he started in 2015. Mar­ques came to the idea for LuchaTO af­ter his own wrestling ca­reer, un­der the name El Sam­pre, was scut­tled by a concussion in 2014. His pas­sion for lucha li­bre (Span­ish for “free fight”) il­lus­trates that the best things about lucha li­bre are those that hap­pen at ring­side.

“In Toronto,” he said, “the Mex­i­can com­mu­nity is start­ing to grow. They only see lucha li­bre back home; they don’t see it here.”

When spec­ta­tors ar­rive for a show, he said, they get the full ex­pe­ri­ence of a lucha li­bre match in Mex­ico: luchadors, live mu­sic, au­then­tic Latin cui­sine and other hall­marks.

An event hap­pen­ing on June 4 at La Liga Sports Com­plex (1107 Finch Ave. W.) will bring wrestlers from around the world, hail­ing from Mex­ico, Japan, the United States, Italy and the United King­dom, mark­ing the firstever lucha li­bre show­case in Toronto.

Another, not long af­ter, will fol­low at the Har­bourfront Fes­ti­val, mark­ing Mex­i­can In­de­pen­dence Day.

For those who might ex­pect some­thing more like a sport­ing con­test out of the ex­pe­ri­ence, though, Mar­ques had a caveat. “It in­volves a lot of acro­batic moves,” he said, “so view­ers may feel like it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But that goes hand in hand with the ex­pe­ri­ence and how over-the-top it is.”

Mean­while, the League of Lady Wrestlers, which cel­e­brates cul­ture by en­shrin­ing com­mu­nity, gen­der eq­uity and fe­male em­pow­er­ment in the ring, is also look­ing for­ward to an ex­cit­ing 2016.

De­tails can be found at league­ofla­dy­wrestlers.com.

LuchaTO has a reg­u­lar slate of wrestling planned for their North York fa­cil­ity

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