Everyone thinks that Mexican wrestling is a game—it's all fake, no blood.
But just imagine yourself in the middle of a ring, being body-slammed by a person who weighs almost 100 kilos. You would almost certainly end up crushed, if not dead.
To avoid that fate, luchadores have to practice. And of course, they need to eat properly, too.
In Mexico, wrestlers are elevated to an almost mythic level, but when it comes to food, they're still human. You might imagine them eating tacos, enchiladas, and burritos, but they do their best to resist temptation and maintain discipline. To be a wrestler in Mexico is a way of life; and in order to not die trying, your diet must remain on point.
None of the wrestlers featured in this article ever revealed their face to me, and I do not know their real names. Their masks are crucial elements of their strength and the myth-making process of the lucha libre itself, which certainly derives from a Latin American sense of magical realism.
Despite its important role in Mexican society, lucha libre is still a subculture and considered something a marginalized sport. But almost all the skeptics change their minds when they see the blood and hear the sounds of the punches.
When the luchadores leave the rings, however, they become just mortals. They might sit next to you on the subway or in the cinema, and you will never know who they are..
The Son of Doctor Murderer
The son of "Doctor Murderer"—one of the most popular Mexican Wrestlers—became a fighter himself when he was 15 years old. (Since 2009, he's called himself "The Son of Doctor Murderer.") "Wrestling is everything," he tells me. "It has given me wisdom, it made me disciplined, and it continues to make me a better person every day."
"Before going to the gym I have to eat fried egg whites," he says. "It's the perfect food. Before a fight, I have a protein shake because it is lighter. Otherwise, I throw up."
The Son of Doctor Murderer's breakfast: Fried egg whites, salt, and cheese; turkey ham; two slices of bread; chili; vanilla protein shake.
Sexy Powder is 25 years old and has been fighting for four years. Her most important piece of advice is to not go crazy with portion sizes, and to get into the habit of eating well.
"We have to eat vegetables. They're the basic ingredient to keep in your diet," Sexy Powder tells me. "I have a diet therapy juice and it's going very well. I eat five meals a day: breakfast; mid-morning I have a salad and a smoothie; then I have my lunch, which includes protein, like chicken or tuna, and smoothies of different fruits and vegetables. Then I make a small snack, where I make a shake of citrus fruits. And for dinner I try to eat tuna."
Her pro tip: "Before fight I try to eat dark chocolate, which is a very good antioxidant and gives me energy. "
Sexy Powder's mid-morning meal: salad of lettuce with apple and unsalted cheese; spinach smoothie with apple and banana.
A living legend, Solar has been wrestling professionally for more than 40 years. He won't reveal his true age, but his wife, who keeps an eye on everything that goes on in the kitchen, says with a smile, "He's about 60."
"Every week I get into the ring, but I'm at a point where I'm wondering if I'm already reaching the end of my career," Solar tells me. "But I try not to think much about it. Wrestling is too important to me."
"When I started, nobody told me how to feed myself and I did it my way," he adds. "At night, I drank a liter of milk and ate a kilo of bananas. Now I eat a lot of fish, chicken, rice, and pasta. At my age, if I do not care what I eat, I will be lost as a wrestler."
Solar's lunch: Surimi salad with lettuce, pasta, sunflower seeds, and blueberries; grilled chicken breast; an apple.
Additional translation and reporting by Jess Winteringham. This first appeared on MUNCHIES in October 2015.