Foreigners Invade Mexico's Lucha Libre Circuit

Mark Jindrak (Marco Corleone) i i

American Mark Jindrak fights by the name of Marco Corleone. The New York native was a well-known wrestler in the United States before coming to Mexico. James Hider hide caption

itoggle caption James Hider
Mark Jindrak (Marco Corleone)

American Mark Jindrak fights by the name of Marco Corleone. The New York native was a well-known wrestler in the United States before coming to Mexico.

James Hider
Sarah Stock (aka Dark Angel), fights in the ring at the Arena Mexico. i i

Sarah Stock (aka Dark Angel), far left, fights in the ring at the Arena Mexico, the biggest lucha libre stadium in Mexico. James Hider hide caption

itoggle caption James Hider
Sarah Stock (aka Dark Angel), fights in the ring at the Arena Mexico.

Sarah Stock (aka Dark Angel), far left, fights in the ring at the Arena Mexico, the biggest lucha libre stadium in Mexico.

James Hider
Sarah Stock i i

Stock has been a luchador in Mexico since 2003. James Hider hide caption

itoggle caption James Hider
Sarah Stock

Stock has been a luchador in Mexico since 2003.

James Hider

In the United States, he's known as Mark Jindrak. But when he enters the ring south of the border, he wrestles by the name of Marco Corleone. He's among the Americans, Canadians and other foreigners who are giving lucha libre, or Mexican freestyle wrestling, an international flavor.

Towering over his stockier counterparts, he plays a mean, brash, tough gringo. But at times, he pretends to get beaten up by the portly and aging but well-loved Mexican luchadores, and it's a crowd pleaser.

"I'm the big, bad guy, but I carry an aura of confidence," Jindrak says.

The 29-year-old New York native has only been fighting for three months in Mexico, but he has American-style ambitions.

"I come here and I want to become the No. 1 wrestler in Mexico," he says confidently.

Jindrak is following an increasingly well-worn path. Mexican fighters have been heading to the United States in recent years because of an explosion in the popularity of lucha libre north of the border. But Americans and other foreigners have been coming to Mexico too, to fight for avid fans.

Sarah Stock, a Canadian with a chemistry degree who fights under the name Dark Angel, has been wrestling in Mexico since 2003.

She wears her Canadian heritage proudly after fighting in one of the great traditions in Mexican lucha libre — a mask-versus-mask match that results in the loser having to give up their disguise and reveal their true identity.

"The mask is really an important symbol here," Stock says. "It's very sacred to the wrestlers... I know people who've been wrestling for over 20 years with the same mask and they tell me that they think that's the only thing of value that they have."

Stock says that wrestlers in Mexico are heroes and are actually paid well.

"It was always a goal to wrestle full time, and this is one of the only places I can do that," she says.

Stock says that women's wrestling is not a gimmick or meant to be salacious.

"All wrestling is respected here, whether you are a midget or a woman or a man."

While they enjoy watching luchadores from Russia, Japan and Europe, fans are loyal to their Mexican heroes.

Rafal Ordunez is a lifelong follower of the sport. He wore a mask and jumped up excitedly as he watched a recent match.

"They don't invest the emotion that the Mexican luchadores do," he says. "They need to do more spectacular leaps. The foreigners use more brutality. We like to see them, but we don't love them like we do the Mexicans."

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