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Chasing the Lucha Libre Dream

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When Josue "Josh" Anival Salcido entered his first professional wrestling ring in 2009, it was as a last-minute fill-in for a few performers who didn't show up. His twin brother Jaime Salcido was by his side, and they tag-teamed in a Lucha Libre match.

They had been training for that moment for more than two years, and even though they thought they weren't quite ready, the fans disagreed. Their careers as Lucha Libre performers, Josh as Krazy Klown and Jaime as Rasta Lion, lurched forward. Sometimes the two wrestled on the same team, other times as rivals.

On a new episode of I Made it in San Diego, Voice of San Diego’s podcast about the region’s businesses and the people behind them, I talk to Josh about wrestling in Lucha Libre matches across Southern California and Mexico, his recent retirement and his new venture as a promoter for a Lucha Libre business that puts on matches in the South Bay.

Lucha Libre is more of an art form than a sport. It’s dripping with long-held traditions. Josh fell in love with those traditions – the colorful masks, the slick and high-flying maneuvers and especially the intense matches where wrestlers would wager their masks or even their own hair (losers have to submit to a haircut right there in the middle of the ring, and winners take the hair as a prize).

Josh remembers seeing a Lucha Libre match for the first time as his dad watched it on their home TV in San Ysidro. He knew immediately that's what he wanted to do with his life, he said.

"I just got mesmerized and fell in love with Lucha Libre," he said. "It's like poetry in motion ... everything flows and everything looks good and everything is like, wow."

But it wasn't until he tried to overdose on cocaine and alcohol that he realized he had to finally go after it.

Josh retired in October after a particularly bloody match.

He said he makes more money now as a promoter than he did inside the ring, but that money was never his motivation.

"I did it for the love and passion of the sport," he said.

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