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Los Fantásticos (Kung Fu, Kato Kung Lee & Black Man)

Kung Fu
Real Name - Raymundo Cuesta Veloz

Lifespan - 1/20/51 - 1/3/01

5’6” 170 lbs. - Mexico City, Mexico
Athletic Background - n/a
Teacher(s) - El Duque, Rafael Salamanca
Aliases - Ray Acosta, El Estudiante

Kato Kung Lee
Real Name - Johnny Lezcano Smith

Birthdate - 12/9/46

5'6" 200 lbs. - Chiriquí, Panamá
Athletic Background - n/a
Teacher(s) - Chamaco Castro
Aliases - El Valiente, Rayo de Oro, Johnny Lezcano

Black Man
Real Name - Álvaro Meléndez Tibanez

Birthdate - 2/19/49

5'6" 189 lbs. - Guadalajara, Jalisco

Athletic Background - n/a
Teacher(s) - Diablo Velaszco
Aliases - La Gacela, Spiderman, Celestia

Professional Background [together] - UWA(`84-`86)

Groups - none

Peak Years - `84-`86

Place in HistoryLos Fantásticos are one of the legendary trios in lucha libre history. They were an exciting grouping who used highflying spots, martial arts and some comedy to bring in the crowds. The three of them have very different backgrounds, played different roles in the group and had differing levels of success after going their separate ways. Although the two other members broke in earlier, it was the success of Kung Fu and his persona that led to the formation of the team. At this time, the UWA was pushing the envelope in terms of utilizing lighter weight stars and pushing wrestlers based on talent. After many excellent undercarders had left La Empresa, a new crop soon developed and they were born out of competition as well as necessity. Kung Fu was one such character. In his early years, he had had several lucky breaks, feuding with Villano III in two separate programs being one and debuting his Kung Fu gimmick in a tag match with El Santo against Ray Mendoza and Ángel Blanco. The character quickly caught on, but his talents were limited and he was often paired with excellent workers, most notably his welterweight rival Fishman. Then he was paired with a more talented partner with the same martial artist persona, Kato Kung Lee, in 1977 and things began clicking. They were a hot tag team. The martial arts had really caught fire with the popularity of Bruce Lee and it became more targeted toward youth as time passed. Exciting wrestlers using martial arts kicks and chops and dressing like ninjas was something any youngster would love. In spite of their success, trios was really the ideal dynamic in Mexico and finding another talented member could be big money at the box office. At first they formed "El Triangulo Oriental" with a young Satoru Sayama. Then they jumped to the UWA. It was here that Kung Fu and Kato Kung Lee found their best partner in Black Man. He was one of the best highflying workers in Mexico and after getting over big in a partnership/rivalry with El Matemático, Black Man was a proven commodity. He complimented Kung Fu and Kato Kung Lee beautifully and the became known as "Los Tres Fantásticos" and were a significant drawing card in El Toreo when it was the leading building in Mexico. They had a strong run in the mid-1980s that included a UWA Trios titles reign and a return to EMLL when the two companies began exchanging talent. At this time, Los Fantásticos were approaching their forties and passing their peaks as performers, so in 1986 they went their separate ways. Kung Fu stayed with La Empressa, Kato Kung Lee focused on Tijuana and Black Man kept on with the UWA. Over the years, the original members of Los Fantásticos formed newer versions, but none were particularly successful. This was largely because being masked ninja-like characters was essential to the trios' mystique and within a year of splitting Black Man and Kato Kung Lee lost their hoods to Blue Panther and El Hijo Del Santo respectively. Their reunions never worked either and throughout the 1990s, the former Fantásticos were struggling. The biggest star Kung Fu lost his mask to Atlantis and with his limitations from age became a weapon-wielding rudo and often feuded with Kato Kung Lee. Black Man repackaged himself for a stint, then toured Japan as Black Man again for one last run before retiring. Kung Fu and Kato Kung Lee broke their sons into the sport and enjoyed some revitalized recognition before Kung Fu died from a sudden heart attack. Los Fantásticos may have only had a brief life, but they had a significant impact on lucha libre and influence over stars to come. Their usage of ninja-inspired outfits, martial arts and the aura surrounding it all was groundbreaking and impacted the careers of notables such as Octogon, Tiger Mask and Mach Hayato.