Republic Of Lucha A Haven For Lucha Libre Fanatics

My latest story for KCET is now available for reading: Republic of Lucha Provides a Haven for Lucha Libre Culture in L.A.

EXCERPT:

“Lucha libre is something very dear and personal to all Mexicans,” continues Arau. “All of my work, be it music, animation, film or art, is about popular Mexican culture and lucha libre is one of the most visible things there is. Compare that with the culture here, the gringo culture, where a mask is usually something associated with terrorism, with sadomasochism. There’s no tradition behind it whereas in all of Mexico, the Indigenous communities use masks, all of the fiestas in every state utilize masks, there are museums dedicated to masks made of different materials. For us, masks are something very natural.”

The space features a store that sells custom lucha libre merchandise including apparel such as shirts, hats and leggings printed in-house at the Republic of Lucha Print Shop. There are small baskets filled with plastic-mold action figures of masked wrestlers. Two large, glass cases contain mannequin heads adorned with various wrestling masks worn in official matches by wrestlers such as Fenix, Penta, Psycho Clown, Tinieblas Jr., and others, all for sale. They also host the Lucha Movie Club most Saturdays each month when the rooftop is converted into an outdoor movie theater to screen classic lucha libre films, such as the ones featuring El Santo and Blue Demon, and more.

LINK: https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/republic-of-lucha-provides-a-haven-for-lucha-libre-culture-in-l-a

Captain Tsubasa Returns To Consoles

Captain Tsubasa, aka Oliver Atom, aka Los Super Campeones, made a long-awaited return to video game consoles last week with the release of Captain Tsubasa: Rise Of New Champions.

I haven’t gotten my hands on the game yet but I did take the time to dive into the history of the world beloved franchise featuring Japan’s most famous & fictional superstar athlete for Gamecrate.

LINK: https://gamecrate.com/brief-introduction-captain-tsubasa/26213

Takahashi’s original manga series ended in 1988 with Tsubasa and the Nankatsu youth squad winning various youth tournaments, including the U-17 World Championship as a member of Japan’s national youth squad. The series ends with his decision to travel to Brazil to continue playing soccer.

Through various sequels, fans watch Tsubasa grow from aspiring pre-teen soccer hero to a globe-trotting professional adult soccer player. The first sequel, World Youth, featured Tsubasa joining Brazilian club Sao Paulo/F.C. Brancos and winning the FIFA World Youth Championship with Japan.

In Road To 2002, Tsubasa has moved to Spain to play for FC Barcelona/FC Catalunya, though he is temporarily relegated to the team’s B squad. He is reintegrated into the main team in time to help them defeat their eternal rivals, Real Madrid, in a thrilling 6 – 5 victory. The series continues with Golden 23 in which Tsubasa, still playing for Barcelona/Catalunya, also helps the Japan national team qualify for the Olympics.

The manga’s current run is titled Rising Sun and focuses on Tsubasa’s and Japan’s exploits in the Olympics where Japan has made it past the group stage and is facing off against Germany in the quarterfinals. One can assume that they’ll defeat Spain the semifinals and move on to win the final versus the winners of the quarterfinal matches between France, USA, Brazil, and Argentina.

FC Barcelona Camp Nou tour 2019

I visited FC Barcelona‘s Camp Nou stadium last year on April 5th, which was the day before they defeated Atlético de Madrid with two late goals. It was exciting to have walked down the same tunnel many legendary players have walked through.

Here’s a short video of the tour including the walkthrough of the locker room area and the player tunnel ending with the entrance onto the field:

And a few photos:

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Lionel Messi’s 5 Balon d’Or on display at the stadium museum.
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The press area.
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The full album of photos is available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/afroxander/albums/72157714330528121

Allstate Sueño Alianza National Showcase 2019

From Sept. 26th – Sept. 30th, 50 players out of a pool of 5,000 players took the opportunity to show their skills for a chance to sign a professional football contract. The Allstate Sueño Alianza National Showcase brought these young players to SilverLakes Sports Complex in Norco, CA where more than 30 scouts from Liga MX, Major League Soccer, United Soccer League, and La Liga surveyed and assessed their skills and talents.

Of these 50 players, separated by age groups in U-14, U-17, and U-20 squads, 18 will be selected by La Liga scouts to travel to Spain and compete against academy teams from Spanish clubs.

David Zavala of Grand Rapids, MI broke a record at Alianza De Futbol when he received 21 invitations from scouts at Liga MX, MLS and USL teams as well as both the Mexican and U.S. national teams.

More information can be found at Alianza De Futbol’s webpage: https://alianzadefutbol.com/en/home/

Below are a few photos from the final match of the final day of competitions. Here is the link to the full album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/afroxander/albums/72157711196212448

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