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Mexican-Style Wrestlers Want To Escape Regulatory Choke Hold

Taylor Winkel
Northwest News Network
Announcer Jake Stratton (on left) and luchador Josh Black (on right) think the regulations on theatrical wrestling need to change.

Lucha Libre wrestling has a huge following in Mexico. In fact, it’s second only to soccer. And its popularity is rising here in the Northwest.

But Lucha Libre wrestlers say complex regulations make it difficult and expensive to perform in Washington. Tuesday in Olympia, lawmakers heard testimony urging the state Department of Licensing to change that.

Lucha Libre is Mexico’s version of pro wrestling. The luchadors, or wrestlers, wear colorful character masks and tights.

In the 2006 film "Nacho Libre," Jack Black made a terrible luchador. He was out of shape, and lacked the technical acrobatic skills that are required of these well trained wrestlers.

Right now in Washington, Lucha Libre is licensed as a combative sport. But Jake Stratton, a ring announcer for Lucha Libre, says it’s not a combative sport at all and that the wrestler’s goal is to put on a show for the audience.

Stratton adds that he rarely sees injuries, much less blood.

“They’re doing simulations of violent acts what would hurt somebody if they were to be done with full gusto and intent to injure,” he explains.

Stratton says licensing it as a combative sport is expensive. For example, it means the wrestlers have to get blood tests every year and at all events, there must be an ambulance with two paramedics. These costs are then passed on to club owners and consumers.

Critics of this current policy want to see the sport licensed as an entertainment, which would be far less costly.