Enter Microman! Mexico’s smallest wrestling star, 19, overcomes mockery to become one of the country’s beloved fighters at just 3ft tall
- The 19-year-old is a symbol of how times have changed in Mexican wrestling
- Thirty years ago little people were used as comic relief and often mistreated
- But now they have their own weight category and fans are learning to love them
Microman, the smallest star in Mexican professional wrestling, is just 90 inches tall -but he packs muscles, power and swagger in a little frame.
Mexico’s ‘lucha libre’ is a wildly popular mix of sport and entertainment has long featured midgets and dwarves in a deeply demeaning role.
They were ‘mascotas’ – a word that can mean both ‘mascot’ and ‘pet’ – for full-size wrestlers.
Microman is a 19-year-old pint-sized wrestler leading a ‘lucha libre’ revolution in Mexico
Microman (pictured) wowed a skeptical crowd with his moves at one recent bout in Mexico City
He climbed onto the top rope to execute a high-flying leap straight into the neck of his rival (shown)
But a new generation of little people are now rising lucha libre stars in their own right, and dream of one day headlining the main events on their fight cards.
Microman wowed a skeptical crowd at one recent bout in Mexico City, where he and two co-stars, El Gallito and Guapito, took on another team of small-sized wrestlers.
He and his fellow ‘Micro Stars’ were met with a smattering of jeers when they got in the ring.
Mexico’s ‘lucha libre,’ is a mix of sport and entertainment that has featured midgets and dwarves in demeaning roles. Pictured: Microman, in red, on the receiving end of during a bout
But a new generation of little people are now rising lucha libre stars in their own right. Pictured from left: Chamuel, Gallito and Microman
Teenager Microman takes it all in with an attitude befitting lucha libre’s biggest little star
But Microman silenced them when he climbed onto the top rope – more than three times his height – to execute a high-flying leap straight into the neck of his also small, but larger, rival.
He then flattened another with an acrobatic headstand kick known as the ‘Zero Gravity’ move.
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The audience went wild in Arena Mexico, the high cathedral of lucha libre.
‘Did you see how he held that headstand on top of the ropes? He does it really well,’ said one impressed fan, 28-year-old construction worker Juan Carlos Elizalde.
Microman (on the receiving end of a slam) is the son of Kemonito, who was also a midget wrestler but had a very different career
Kemonito was a ‘mascota’ for full-size wrestlers, a laughable sidekick who provided comic relief until the real action started
Working conditions and the level of respect have improved in the Mexican professional wrestling league since then
‘He’s really tiny, but look how he fights!’ said another, 30-year-old Felipe Escorza.
Microman, 19, takes it all in with an attitude befitting lucha libre’s biggest little star.
‘Microman is a wrestler who gives everything he’s got for the crowd,’ he said, referring to himself in the third person.
Microman was fighting in the second match of the night – four bouts down from the top of the fight card.
But just having his name on the billing shows the progress he and other little wrestlers have made since his father’s time.
Microman was fighting in the second match of the night – four bouts down from the top of the fight card
Thirty years ago, pint-sized fighters were seen as buffoons, said Catalina Gaspar, an activist for little people’s rights
Microman is the son of Kemonito, who was also a midget wrestler but had a very different career.
For 30 years, Kemonito was a ‘mascota’ for full-size wrestlers, a laughable sidekick who provided comic relief until the real action started.
Working conditions and the level of respect have improved dramatically since then in the Mexican professional wrestling league, the World Lucha Libre Council (CMLL), says Catalina Gaspar, an activist for little people’s rights.
‘They train them professionally now. I’ve been really happy to see that. Twenty years ago, they threw them in the ring with wrestlers who were two meters (more than 6’6’) tall, and they got injured a lot.
Twenty years ago, they threw them in the ring with wrestlers who were 6ft 6in tall, and they got injured a lot
But now they’re limited to fighting people who are their own size and weight
Kemonito’s generation had no health insurance or benefits, but put up with the job for lack of other options, she said.
‘Some of them were paralyzed… One even committed suicide,’ she said.
‘But now they are seen as idols, not mascots or buffoons.’
But Gaspar, who is herself just over one meter tall, said there is still a long way to go: social security benefits, pension plans and other support for ‘life after wrestling.’
The eight Micro Stars debuted in April 2017 as the third weight category in the CMLL.
Their coach, wrestling legend The Last Warrior, remembers it as a revelation.
‘It was Children’s Day, and it was awesome. Everybody in the crowd was going crazy,’ he said.
Eight Micro Stars debuted in April 2017 as the third weight category in the CMLL
They do not earn a regular salary, but they get medical care, health insurance and a guarantee of at least two events per month
Microman himself said he did not know just what to expect that day.
‘I didn’t know people would react like that, that they would back me so much without even knowing me. I think it was my happiest day in wrestling,’ he said.
The Micro Stars started out with abbreviated bouts, but now fight full-length matches just like their bigger peers.
They do not earn a regular salary, but they get medical care, health insurance and a guarantee of at least two events per month, according to the CMLL.
Increasingly, that includes the league’s prized weekend fight nights.
‘That makes you nervous, because you never know what will happen, whether people will like it,’ said Microman.
‘But when you enter the arena and start walking down the bridge, you just do what you have to do, which is show everything you know in the ring.’
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