Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lightweight

For years my ideal wrestler was six feet tall, weight 175 to 185 pounds, in short, my size back in my teens and twenties when I was wrestling roommates and pals.  This ideal was less arrogant egotism than yearning for an opponent who would be my perfect match.  Most of the buds and buds of buds I wrestled were a couple of inches taller and perhaps ten, fifteen pounds heavier.  These guys were college athletes, football mostly, and they made short work of me.  I didn't mind.  I loved it.  Rarely I wrestled a smaller guy--I'm thinking particularly of this one guy who was three inches or so shorter and about ten or fifteen pounds lighter, built tightly like a tennis player.  We were a fairly even match--his agility and strength balancing my bulk and aggressiveness.  Our two or three matches were close contests.  I wasn't humiliated exactly, but I expected to show better than I did against him.  Still, I appreciated a match that could sustain a struggle of fifteen minutes or so, without one of us holding back.

Not only were tall, junior heavyweights my ideal, but for years I paid no attention to anyone falling outside those boundaries--larger or, especially, smaller.  I wouldn't exactly call myself a body fascist or size queen, as much as I was just a guy wanting long, strenuous contests with a well-matched foe.  I watched the so-called featherweights on TV with interest, though at a distance, without ever entering into the matches imaginatively--and such contests were rare back then in American pro wrestling.  Although, as I have mentioned elsewhere, midget wrestling in the pro ring always held a certain fascination for me, as did slim lady pros, with their quick, ferocious moves, it's been only recently that I developed a taste for little guys, namely men in the 5'6" to 5'8" range.  I suppose as I got older and prospects for real competition diminished as I drifted away from wrestling towards other things, I realized I could be any size I liked in my wrestling fantasies and so, therefore, could my imaginary opponents.

El Ligero (the name means "lightweight") is a case in point.  Ligero, 26, 5'6", 161, bears out the observation Jonathan Swift made in the first and second books of Gulliver's Travels--that, aesthetically, smaller men are more perfectly formed and graceful, their pores invisible and movements quick, but larger men's flaws are harder to overlook, and their added size creates  only more room for imperfection to manifest itself.  His face is hidden, but El Ligero's body is a work of art--symmetrical, streamlined, coiled tight like a spring ready to bounce.  No wonder he has been a fixture on the European wrestling scene for ten years now and with over a hundred wrestling companies.  The man is amazing.  The wrestler is English, but the character hails from "Los Sancho, Mexico, which sadly has burnt down."  But for years I didn't "get" him--he was small, and frankly I couldn't get over that mask of his.  Now I find myself becoming tolerant of the horns and Muppet colors of his gear.  He hasn't entered my fantasies, but that may be just a matter of time.  He and small wrestlers like him are on my radar now.  These shots (by Tony Knox) show El Ligero facing Darran Burridge, 29, 6'1", 220#, before a standing room only crowd for 1PW last Saturday.  The big man won, but I bet it was the little man's moves that everyone remembers.

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