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Mexican wrestling taps into Bremerton - What happens behind the mask, stays behind the mask
El Vagabundo feels comfortable shirtless in front a crowd of strangers, but without his mask, the lucha libre wrestler from Tacoma feels naked.
"It's like taking off one of my arms," he said Thursday before La Poblamita 's Cinco de Mayo wrestling fiesta in Bremerton. "It's part of my body and who I am."
"It's a part of my life, it's everything to me," he added. "It's part of our culture, a tradition for Mexican wrestlers, and it represents the man behind the mask."
"This was great for wrestling fans," said Ron Sutherland of Poulsbo, co-owner of Suquamish Championship Wrestling. "It's great to have them see our product on their holiday."
The event featured five wrestling matches, which included flips from the ropes, body slams, broken fluorescent light tubes and guitars. Thursday's matches were a tune-up for Sutherland's wrestlers, who will compete Saturday at the Suquamish Tribal Center in steel cage matches. Sutherland has owned the league for four years with Sam Simms.
Sutherland wrestled as El Gringo Loco – a villain who hurled anti-immigrant and sexist remarks at the crowd – and was joined by a slew of competitors that included both Mexican luchadores and American competitors.
Saul Vargas, owner of the Hispanic general store and restaurant, provided food, drinks and a raffle for those who donated to the Kitsap Seventh Day Adventist School in Bremerton. Admission was free.
Mexican wrestlers will return to Bremerton this summer on the Fourth of July.
"If you thought you saw something on Cinco de Mayo, just wait until Saturday in the steel cage," Sutherland said Friday. "I want you to step out of your home, step in my arena, enjoy the show and forget your problems. It's supposed to be an escape."
Admission for Saturday's fight is $5.