In Mexican lucha libre — professional wrestling known for its masked fighters and cartoonish style — the bad guys rule. They’re known simply as rudos.
“Mexican lucha libre is for rudos. We welcome any rudo who wants to come in here and be badder than the others,” says Marco Espinosa, a fan, from beneath his souvenir lucha libre mask.
So it made sense for Sam Polinsky, a 27-year-old wrestler from Pittsburgh, to try his luck south of the border. He came to Mexico about nine months ago and branded himself as Sam Adonis, “El Rudo de las Chicas” or the “Ladies’ Bad Guy.”
When Donald Trump won the presidency after a campaign that regularly scapegoated and insulted the Mexican people, Polinsky saw an opportunity to turn up the heat on his bad-guy character.
“I had a perfect idea: Why not come to the arena with [an American] flag, but I’m gonna take this to a whole other level,” he says, unfurling a flag and grinning. “I have a 4-ft. flag with the face of Donald Trump on it.”
With this prop, he became the surrogate of Donald Trump in Mexican lucha libre.
Photos: James Fredrick for NPR