Rey Misterio: Wrestling with Motivation
Remaining optimistic and staying driven in the face of adversity is difficult for many. However, there is always something to fight for, even when things look hopeless.
World-renowned luchador Rey Misterio has faced much difficulty in becoming a legend in the world of professional wrestling. Despite tough times in his career and in his personal life, he has always remained focused on the important things in life.
“Despite everything one has to deal with as a wrestler, my favorite thing about performing has always been bringing to life the character of Rey Misterio, which is much beloved by many,” he said to La Prensa San Diego during an interview.
Rey Misterio, whose birth name is Miguel Angel Lopez, claims he was destined to become a wrestler. His love for lucha libre, or Mexican-style professional wrestling, began at an early age, when a group of kids from his neighborhood went to a lucha show in his hometown of Tijuana.
Years later, once he was old enough, Lopez was trained by the greats of Tijuana’s lucha scene, such as “Chamaco” Martinez, El Marinero, and Maravilla Blanca.
On Jan. 6, 1976, Lopez received the opportunity to make his debut as a wrestler at a sold out show at Tijuana’s Municipal Auditorium. That night the alter ego of Rey Misterio, the King of Mystery, was born. Lopez developed his character’s name name based on the night of his debut, which was on Mexico’s Three Kings’ holiday, and the fact that he had to keep his real identity a mystery, since he didn’t want his family to know he was a wrestler.
That night, and everytime Rey Misterio stepped into the squared circle, Lopez worked to earn the respect of Tijuana’s lucha libre fans. With every match, however, Lopez was also receiving demolishing blows to his body.During Lopez’s performing career, Rey Misterio stepped into the ring at Mexico’s most important venues, as well as several arenas throughout the United States and the world.
Despite his love for his craft, Lopez felt that during long tours, more than his health, his biggest sacrifice was being away from his family.
“I was out during very important moments for my family and that always weighed on me very much,” he stated. “This way of life gives you lots of things but it also takes away things that are priceless.”
Rey Misterio’s legacy includes winning several championships and the development of Tijuana-based performers who have gone on to become international superstars, such as Damian 666, Konnan, Psicosis, Extreme Tiger and, Rey Mysterio Jr., who is his nephew and successor.
One night, at a show in Denver, Lopez stepped into the ring with La Parka, a “bad guy” character who is a favorite among lucha libre fans. During his match, Lopez received an impact that caused him muscle spasms and unbearable pain.
“In this sport there is always a great risk and one always sacrifices themselves for the fans,” Lopez shared. “When a wrestler feels fine, he never wants that to end.”
One night, while getting up from his bed, Lopez felt his legs give out and entered a state of shock and panic.
“I dragged myself to a sofa and sat down, then I thought about committing suicide,” Lopez confessed. “The feeling of depression I felt was so strong that I actually thought about killing myself right there.”
Finding the strength to continue with his life, Lopez underwent medical studies and treatments for several months. Eventually, the injury he suffered cost him the use of his legs.
After a therapy session and speaking with friends, Lopez saw that he had a greater purpose in life that simply having been Rey Misterio once.
Finding inspiration in his Christian beliefs, Lopez now lives a new stage in his life as a motivational speaker and looks to share advice and examples from his experiences as both Rey Misterio and as himself.
Lopez, more than anything, looks to reach people with disabilities, as he knows first-hand how terrifying it is to lose the use of his lower extremities.
“I always tell disabled people that I speak with that life doesn’t end with being in a wheelchair, you can still live a fulfilling life,” he pointed out. “I share with them my life story and and advise them to not fall into any chains of negative thought.”
During his appearances, Lopez also interacts with attendees, creating a stronger bond with those who hear his message.
“Sometimes, when I talk with audience members they ask me more about my life, more about how I psychologically recovered from my injury and other things,” Lopez said.
“Also, sometimes people ask me if I take off my mask to sleep or to shower,” he quipped.
Without losing sight of what is important, Lopez always recommends to everyone not being afraid when it is time to face new challenges, no matter how intimidating they may be.
“I have stood out as a person and as as wrestler by being bold,” Lopez declared. “The world has always been for the bold.”