The hoarse noises of roaring applause, soft laughter and derisory whistles echo again in the cavernous Arena Mexico in the nation’s capital, a temple of the colorful ‘lucha libre’ struggle, as the remote threat of Covid-19 has allowed a return to something closer to normal.
Although the stands at the arena in the heart of Mexico City are far from full due to Covid restrictions, the deafening echo of voices from hundreds of enthusiastic fans, along with the grunts, taunts and cries of the wrestlers, seem to make up for it. empty seats.
Ivan Martinez, a 47-year-old doctor, admitted to feeling “quite emotional”. With his family, he had traveled the 1,700 miles (2,800 kilometers) of his native Tijuana, in the northwest, to see the return of professional wrestling.
“It gives me great joy to return to an arena, to the wrestlers that I love and appreciate since I was a child – a love that I have passed on to my own children,” he said. .
– Colorful masks, scowling faces –
In the ring, the colorfully dressed gladiators do their thing. Some of the towering athletes wear the stern-looking masks that made Mexican wrestling famous, while others, dressed in vibrantly colored outfits, choose to show off their scowls.
# photo1Every jump, punch or grip culminates with a body slammed onto the canvas mat, producing gasps and thunderous applause from grateful fans. But it’s more of a circus than a real fight.
The return of professional wrestling has been a boon to neighborhood businesses, increasing sales of everything from masks and dolls of the most famous wrestlers to food and drink.
“A lot of people depend on wrestling,” said Samia Garcia, a 40-year-old pharmaceutical biologist who was heading to the show. “So I’m glad they’re starting to open up. “
The city government has allowed the arena to sell only 500 tickets, barely 3% of its normal 16,500-seat capacity. Everyone should wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Yet the feeling of joy is almost palpable.
“I’ve loved wrestling since I was little,” said Ramses Salas, a 26-year-old mask salesman. “I used to run here when I was a kid… and now I’m more than happy to come back. “
All of this was made possible by a marked improvement in the Covid situation in Mexico.
With 759 people currently hospitalized with the coronavirus, Mexico City hospitals are currently at 9% of capacity – down dramatically from 90% in January and the lowest level since April 2020.
Mexico, with 126 million people, has recorded 2.4 million confirmed cases and 223,072 deaths, making it the fourth hardest-hit country in the world in absolute numbers.
# photo2 Experts say the steady decline in coronavirus cases and rising levels of immunity to vaccination or infection suggest the worst of the pandemic may be over for Mexico.
Wrestling fans hope it won’t be long before they can take all the seats in the arena.
© 2021 AFP