- Explore more great deals on thousands of titles in our Deals in Books store.
I come from a family of hard workers, Mexicans as far back as I know. Both of my parents were Mexican, but like a lot of others they have held jobs and lived on both sides of the border throughout their lives. My father, Roberto Gutierrez, grew up very poor. He never really went to school -- he went to work instead. When he was eight, his job was picking up waste to feed the pigs. He learned things on his own, getting his education in the streets. He found bigger and better jobs and finally got to the point where he ran a factory warehouse for a picture-frame manufacturer. It took years and a lot of effort on his part, getting up before dawn and coming home well after sunset, but he made it work. As kids, we were well cared for. Not rich, but never hungry.
My mother, Maria del Rosario, divided her time between work and raising us. I have three brothers: Rojelio, Roberto Jr., and Luis, all older. She cleaned houses and had other jobs, making money to help support the family.
I was born December 11, 1974, in Chula Vista, at Scripps Memorial Hospital. That happens to be the same hospital where my son and daughter were born. While it's changed a bit over the years, I still felt an attachment when my children were born there. I thought it was pretty fitting that they started life where I started.
Being born in the United States made me a citizen -- the first one inthe family. Then as now, America represented a better life for the next generation, with the promise of education and freedom.
My parents named me Oscar. That's an unusual name for a Mexican-American, but there's no elaborate history or romance attached to it. The name popped into my father's head one day. He liked it, and that's what he decided to call me.
To be honest, I never asked my mom where that name came from until I started working on this book. It's funny, I guess: No matter how curious you are about most things, there are always a few things that you take for granted.
Soon after I was born, my father's company offered him a job in Tijuana. It was a very good job, but he didn't want to relocate the family. My parents had bought a house in San Diego, and they wanted to make sure we all finished high school there. So my father started commuting every day. Distance wise, Tijuana and San Diego are very close. But the border can add a lot of time to the commute.
It wasn't too bad in the morning: He'd leave San Diego about 5:30, cross the border, and get to work by 6:00 A.M. Coming home was a different story. He'd leave work around 4:00 P.M., but with the traffic he wouldn't get home until 6:30 or so. If he stayed later, he'd be home even later, very often well into the night. He'd get home, and soon have to go to bed so he could get up first thing in the morning.
That was just one of the sacrifices my parents made for us. It's the story of all immigrants: to work hard for the next generation.
WRESTLING HAS ALWAYS been a big part of my life. My uncle Miguel -- Miguel Ángel López Díaz -- was a well-known luchador, or wrestler, over the border in Tijuana, wrestling as Rey Misterio. He is my mother's younger brother, and she'd often take me to see his shows. For a while, he worked for a construction company and lived with us in San Diego. He would work during the week, then head down to Tijuana Friday nights to wrestle. I'd tag along, excited by the show and happy to be with my uncle.
My uncle's ring name translates as Mystery King or the King of Mystery. It's a reference to an important ingredient of lucha libre, or Mexican-style wrestling. With so many wrestlers using masks, mystery about the sport is a constant.
Unlike me, my uncle is a little taller than the average height for a Mexican, and he wrestled as a heavyweight, his billed weight around 220 pounds. He's a powerful man, and by the early 1980s he was well known in Tijuana and Mexico. He was also developing a reputation as a gifted and exceptional teacher, training a large number of students who would go on to superstar careers in the ring.
All I knew was that he was my favorite uncle, and I loved being around him. He was practically as close to me as my father or mother. He and his wife at the time, Lilia Lopez, used to babysit me. He was still in his twenties, without any children of his own, and he cared for me as if I were his own son. He was living on a ranch, and we'd ride horses together or drive my three-wheeler. That was the kind of family we were -- very, very close.
I loved tagging along with him to TJ -- what we called Tijuana -- when he would teach his wrestling classes. The sessions were held in a gym next to the Tijuana Auditorium. It was there that I first had a chance to go into the ring. I was really little, no more than four or five, maybe even younger. I'd jump and play around, like any kid would do when he sees a ring. I'd imitate what I saw the wrestlers do. I'd hit the ropes, bounce off the second. I would climb the turnbuckle and jump off, land on my feet, and roll.
I remember my uncle standing on the outside of the ring as another wrestler pushed the ropes open. I'd run and dive between the first and second ropes, landing in my uncle's arms. I was sure he'd catch me, and he always did.
Going as a fan to wrestling shows with my mother and grandmother -- Leonor Dias -- brought me into the life at an early age. I would go into the locker room with my uncle and see all my favorite wrestlers. I'd watch them go over high spots, working different steps and moves, putting two and two together. Of course, at the time I had no clue how hard they were working. It all looked very easy. I'd imitate what they were doing later on and learn almost by chance.
Backstage, I was able to see a lot of my favorite wrestlers without masks, which was a real privilege. To meet someone without their mask is a huge honor, and a sign of respect.
IN MEXICO, PROFESSIONAL wrestling is known as lucha libre. The words literally mean "free wrestling," and the phrase is sometimes translated as "free-style wrestling." But the real definition of Mexican wrestling goes beyond what the words mean on their own. In fact, words themselves really can't describe it. To understand lucha libre, you have to experience it.
Wrestling in Mexico shares a history with wrestling in the United States, and much of what you see in the ring is similar on either side of the border. Even with that in mind, though, wrestling in Mexico tends to be higher flying, with more high spots and more acrobatic action than you see in the typical American ring.
Tag team wrestling, often with three wrestlers on each team, is more popular in Mexico than in the U.S. It's common for matches to be decided by Two-Out-of-Three-Falls rather than simply one as in the U.S. Until recently, there was less emphasis on continuing storylines and more use of comedy in Mexico compared to the U.S.
But the most obvious difference between American wrestling and lucha libre is the masks. They're a colorful part of the sport and, as I mentioned, they have almost a religious significance to fans and wrestlers.
A lot of popular stories about lucha libre connect the masks to the ancient Aztec or Mayan cultures, where masks had a religious significance. Wrestling historians point out that the masks' history in Mexican wrestling seems only to date to the 1930s or so. But the idea of the ancient connection is a strong one, and it may be one reason masks are so important.
Not everyone wears a mask. But for those who do, putting it on is like putting on a new identity. The mask is part of who you are in the ring, your real face as a wrestler. You're still you, of course -- but you're also different.
Masked wrestlers will go pretty far to avoid being identified and seen without their masks by fans. Mil Máscaras never took off his mask inside the locker room. He even wore it into the showers, choosing to shower in the end stall if he wanted to wash his hair. No one ever saw him unmasked, in the ring or backstage. El Hijo del Santo was the same way, and is to this day.
That's how intense it can be. It's very close to a religion.
I get asked all the time "Rey, do you ever take off your mask?"
Of course I do -- but not in the ring; not when I'm performing, doing a show, or meeting people. The mask is part of my respect for the profession and for the people I'm entertaining.
I also had it taken off for a period of time when I was wrestling -- but we'll get into that later on.
Good versus Evil
IN LUCHA LIBRE, a lot of the matches are seen as contests between good and evil, much more than they are in the United States. Wrestlers are divided into técnicos and rudos. The word técnico is said to come from an older term, científico, or "scientist," and it refers to wrestling that is more scientific or technical -- in other words, a style that follows the rules and laws of wrestling.
Rudo means "crude" or "rough." A rudo is expected to use any method he can to win, and he won't be above breaking the rules to get a pin.
In the U.S., wrestling fans use the terms babyface and heel to classify wrestlers, and it's usually said that babyfaces are on the side of good and heels are evil. But the distinctions aren't as strong here as they are in Mexico. Here a heel could be very popular and even a borderline babyface, without the sense of being evil. It's usually different in Mexico.
Mexico's greatest luchador, El Santo, provided a model for técnicos to follow. Born in 1917, Santo, el Enmascarado de Plata (Saint, the Masked Man of Silver), was to Mexican wrestling what Babe Ruth was to baseball -- if Babe Ruth had also been the leading actor of his time.
Santo wrestled for fifty years, never taking off his mask until only ten days before he died. He'd wrestled for years and starred in dozens of movies, but he... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This book is a good read if you're a fan of pro wrestling and I recommend it.
Rey didn't seem to go into too much detail on things other than his surgeries and his workout routine at the end of the book.
This book is certainly becoming one of my favorite books, its an incredible story of Rey's life and career.
Well I will start off by saying I am not a big Rey Mysterio fan but thought that he would focus on some things but if you are a fan of his and follow his career you pretty much do... Read morePublished 2 months ago by jlbjr
I have always admired Rey Mysterio work inside the ring. This book helped me to find a whole new respect for my favorite masked luchador. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Luis Moreno
I love Rey Mysterio, and he is an inspiration to anyone in any walk of life. I wish him nothing but the best.
But this book was terrible. Read more
Great book good read and I completely recommend it to all wwe fans all about the current wwe super star rey mysterios life and his history and how he got where he is today what he... Read morePublished on November 13, 2012 by Jacob the 619 kid
One of the better books on a pro wrestler that I have read. I've been watching Rey since I was a child, and it was great to see him from "Behind the Mask"Published on October 19, 2012 by Smooth
I gotta say that I was skeptical about this one, but my biggest fears were that Rey wouldn't touch much on his time in Lucha Libre and that he would ignore his time without the... Read morePublished on March 14, 2012 by J. Boutwell
at first i didn't want to buy it but i got it for christmas and i loved it. Its a great biography the only thing that could have made it better would be having a few more picturesPublished on November 22, 2011 by Ash
This is a great book. Rey talks about his childhood and how he went to wrestling school with his uncle despite it being across the border in Tj and he lived in San Diego. Read morePublished on August 31, 2011 by Daisy