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Salvador Lutteroth (1897-1987)

Real NameSalvador Lutteroth Gonzalez

Lifespan - 3/21/1897 - 9/5/1987

Mexico City, Mexico

Occupational BackgroundMilitary officer, property inspector, Boxing Promotion

Mentor(s) - n/a

Promotional BackgroundEMLL(`33-`87)

Peak Years1950s-1960s

Place in HistoryIn the many areas of the world where pro-wrestling has become popular, there is a pivotal star who captures the attention of the audiences and allows the sport to gain mainstream popularity.  Hulk Hogan, Strangler Lewis and Yvon Robert were monumental stars in their own time and place, but all had the backing of a powerful visionary.  It could be argued that no pro-wrestler has ever been more of a cultural icon than El Santo and it is without question that the man behind him was Salvador Lutteroth.  The story of the Lutteroth family is so closely entwined with the history of lucha libre in Mexico that it makes them unlike any other family in the sport.  Salvador Lutteroth spent his twenties in the military when the Mexican Revolution was transforming the country.  While serving in the government, Lutteroth experienced his first pro-wrestling matches in El Paso, Texas and wanted to import the sport to his country.  In 1933, he formed Empresa Mexicana Lucha Libre (EMLL) and began building his audience slowly.  Lutteroth introduced masked wrestlers, which were occasionally used in the United States, but became the norm in Mexico.  The winnings of two separate lotteries helped Lutteroth build Arena Mexico, which became the home to his stars.  He secured television deals and soon his top stars El Santo, Tarzan Lopez and Bobby Bonales were among the biggest celebrities in the country.  EMLL began booking out its talent to smaller promoters throughout Mexico, which became the standard practice.  In 1952, Lutteroth joined the NWA and his promotion remained their representative in Mexico into the 1980s.  While he enjoyed an honorific title of vice president a couple times and hosted the NWA convention on a couple occasions as well, Lutteroth was not a major power broker within the Alliance.  The NWA Heavyweight champion defended the title there, but it was having control of the light heavyweight, middleweight and welterweight titles that was of the greatest importance.  Lucha libre was blowing up during this time and Arena Mexico was creating one star after another.  Based off the popularity of El Santo, masked men like Blue Demon, Black Shadow and Huracan Ramirez became household stars as well.  That is not to say that men without masks like Gory Guerrero, Karloff Lagarde and Sugi Sito were not top stars in their own right.  It was during this era, “Dorada de Lucha Libre,” that Salvador Jr., known as Chavo, was gaining more authority within EMLL.  While he was the natural successor, he never commanded the respect of the luchadors of the elder Lutteroth.  Arena Mexico had developed their own way of doing business and although other companies showed up from time to time, they could never match Lutteroth in terms of talent, infrastructure or connections.  By the 1970s, the tensions between EMLL’s conservative vision and that of others reached an apex.  Local promoter Francisco Flores along with Rene Guajardo and Ray Mendoza split from Lutteroth to form a new company in 1975.  The UWA became the first lasting competition to EMLL and it survived past Lutteroth’s death years later.  The elder Lutteroth was nearing eighty when he brought his grandson Paco Alonso into the company.  Alonso proved to be popular among the wrestlers and able to be both a traditionalist while embracing new opportunities.  Chavo soon bowed out and it was under Paco that EMLL reached new heights and also weathered some tough storms and yet it still exists to this day, over eighty years from its birth, making it much older than even the WWE with all its vaunted lineage.  Salvador Lutteroth is, without question, one of the single most important promoters in pro-wrestling history.  He essentially took an American sport and he successfully imported it, assimilated it and transformed it into a cultural phenomenon in Mexico that is unlike pro-wrestling anywhere else in the world.