|El Gladiador (The Gladiator)|
There's no doubt that El Gladiador's short career was one of the most controversial ones in the history of modern lucha libre.
Born Luis Ramirez, he was a weightlifter and bodybuilder in his teen years and was a regular contender in the Mr. Mexico bodybuilding contests of the early 1950s. It has been written that during his late teens and early twenties he was the subject of public gossip and scandals in the nightclub scene in Mexico City, peaking with a rumored affair he had with a woman of some notoriety. This apparently caused him to pull out of the Mr. Mexico competition in 1955, and soon afterwards he turned to lucha libre.
Ramirez, whose "maestro" was Enrique Ugartechea, debuted under the name El Leñador (The Lumberjack) and began his wrestling career with a promotion ran by Jack O' Brien, Jesús Garcia Hernández, and Elías Simón, that competed for a brief period against Salvador Lutteroth. When this opposition to Lutteroth failed, it was Lutteroth who took Ramirez under his wing, and started wrestling in EMLL where he took on the name El Gladiador.
El Gladiador was not the greatest of wrestlers and his huge rise to stardom was very discussed by the media because it was clear that he was pushed due to looks and charisma rather than actual ability. He was not a bad wrestler, though, but he was not on the work level of the biggest superstars in the industry.
He'd come to the ring dressed in his full Gladiator attire, and he was given a big push so he defeated almost everybody in the company and kept an undefeated streak during some time. Well, in all reality he lost many matches, but just via DQ. As said, he had an awesome look and as lucha was started to get on TV at that time, that influence can also be credited as one of the causes of Gladiador's success.
The match that made Gladiador a huge star was the August 23, 1955 one in which he defeated El Santo. He then started a big program with El Santo that finished in their September 21, 1956 match in which he lost his mask to the silver legend. Well, actually the feud did not finish there. Some sources have reported that Santo once took Gladiador's hair, but any places or dates are unknown.
An interesting fact of the Santo vs. Gladiador match is that after Gladiador unmasked himself, some policemen that were watching the show just like every other fan, confused Gladiador with a very dangerous criminal that was being searched by the police. Luis was a few hours in jail until the Lutteroths cleared up the confusion.
Gladiador's biggest enemy during his career was not Santo, though... it was alcohol. While it is acceptable to have a few drinks every once in a while, he was known for arriving drunk out of his mind to the matches.
During an Arena Coliseo match in which he teamed with Galindo against Sugi and Huroki Sito, he was so drunk that he even attacked his partner Cavernario when he was trying to stop him. After attacking his own partner, a huge melée was formed in the ring and in the middle of all that, Gladiador attacked the commissioner Demetrio Ballardo and got a "for life" Mexico City suspension from the lead commissioner, Manuel Muñoz. Muñoz was known as a very old and traditionalist person, so it was almost impossible to get him to reverse his decision.
He still kept wrestling outside Mexico City and made a lot of money because he still had an attractive personality to the average fan.
He made his Distrito Federal return on September 17, 1959 against "Caballero" Tony López in the semi-final match of a card promoted by the "Union de Empleados de Cantinas, Restaurantes, Hoteles y Similares" (Union of employees of canteens, restaurants, hotels and others). He was initially let to wrestle just in that match because he was doing it for free as it was a benefit card, but after the match he was told by the commissioner that he could wrestle in Mexico City again, so he got in touch with the Lutteroths again. Gladiador sometimes teamed with Santo during his return and even though he was a name wrestler, he never had any other high profile rivalries.
Luis Ramirez died on December 3, 1965 during a big brawl at a nightclub of doubtful reputation in Guadalajara, Jal. Apparently both he and his assassin were drunk, a fight started and the man stabbed Luis who died there due to the blood loss.
Around twenty years later a Hijo del Gladiador was seen in the lucha rings, but this was not a relative of the original Gladiador. When Hijo del Gladiador lost his mask he was announced as Arturo Ramírez Beristáin, but this man's real name was Arturo Beristáin (not Ramírez) and used to wrestle as Talismán in the 80s, in fact he had lost that mask in a match against Atlantis.
Luchas de apuestas record
|Date||Apuesta||Winner(s)||Loser(s)||Arena and/or Place|
|1956/09/21||mask||El Santo||El Gladiador||Arena México - Mexico City|
|??/??/??||hair||Black Shadow||El Gladiador||Mexico City|
|??/??/??||hair||El Santo||El Gladiador||unknown|
|1959/01/25||hair||Black Killer||El Gladiador||Arena Canada Dry|