By Scott Umstattd
Lucha Libre is a term used to describe professional wrestling in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries. Translated, it means freestyle wrestling.
On a technical note, I did not use a flash for any of these pictures. I feel that my Canon 60D performs well with a higher ISO setting. The great low light performance from the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L USM lens also made it possible to leave my external flash at home.
For the pictures in this series, I used ISO settings ranging from 1600 to 3200. The higher ISO setting allowed me to use a faster shutter speed to stop the action.
Above: Masks play a big part in Lucha Libre matches. Rules dictate that a wrestler is disqualified if he removes the mask of his opponent. But rules are broken all the time.
Above: Lucha Libre, like its American counterpart, is essentially a form of theater. Crowds get into the act by wearing the mask of their favorite luchadore (wrestler).
Above: In some matches, the loser must remove his mask. This adds more drama to further incite the crowd and draw bigger audiences.
Above: Luchadores (wrestlers) often perform high-flying acrobatics as part of their routine. Even though it is essentially a theatric performance it's not uncommon for the luchadores to injure themselves or their opponents.
Above: As is the case with American wrestling, matches include breaks in the action to allow for the luchadores to taunt each other. This helps to give meaning to the matches and also helps fans choose their favorite wrestlers.
Above: While most luchadores opt for make-up or masks, this young fighter took on the persona of a monkey-man. He lept around the ring on all fours and made monkey sounds as he attacked his opponent.
Above: Obviously, kids are huge fans of Lucha Libre. Here, a young fan wears a mask as he watches the luchadores perform.
Above: Entertainment is paramount in Lucha Libre matches. In this match, teams of three fought one another. While the wrestler on top is half the size of his opponent that didn't prevent him from getting in some good hits to the ribs after his larger teammate knocked down the masked luchadore.
Above: Here you can see the pint-sized luchadore trying to best to hit his much larger opponent. Try as he might, none of his punches landed.
Above: From head to toe, luchadores wear outfits that bear significance to their family name of the character they are portraying.
Above: The action never stops in Lucha Libre matches. Here, an agile masked fighter lifts himself high in the air in order to drop his knees onto his opponents stomach.
Above: At some point every luchadore is going to hit the mat. Sometimes very hard. Here, a masked luchadore struggles to get up before his opponent can strike another blow.
Above: While it can appear violent, the majority of hits and punches are actually slaps and rubs. This looks like a fatal blow, but in reality the masked wrestler's forearm grazes the cheek of his opponent giving the wrestler who has been hit enough reason to fall to the mat in agony.
Above: Lucha Libre is actually derived from Greco-Roman wrestling which involves putting your opponent in positions that can often result in a tap-out or giving up because of the unbearable pain. Here, a masked luchadore twists and pulls his opponent's leg, foot and ankle.
Above: While some luchadores can appear comical, their moves can be vicious and verge on cheating. Just because it looks like your opponent is smiling doesn't mean he's going to play fair or be in a jolly mood.
Above: Posing for the crowd is part of the performance. It offers a chance for the wrestlers to get the crowd on their side or to let the crowd know that they are not there to be liked.
Above: Tearing off the mask of your opponent is seen as a sign of disrespect. But it's a great crowd pleaser.
Above: Yet another masked luchadore faces his worst nightmare; having his face exposed to the crowd.
Above: After performing an illegal move, this masked luchadore explains to the referee (who conveniently didn't see the illegal move) that he is innocent and has done nothing wrong.
Above: After losing an exhausting match, this Lucha Libre wrestler catches his breath and stares off in disbelief that he has been beaten.
Above: While Lucha Libre has theatrical elements, the action is very real. Luchadores must be in great shape to put their bodies through the abuse of a fight night after night.
You can read more about Lucha Libre if you are now totally enthralled by this colorful theatrical sport.