He didn't look like a professional athlete.
His hair was thinning and combed over his mostly bald head. His face was round. His gelatinous belly even rounder.
When he came running outside to yell at us, his stark white belly contrasted with the dark brown skin of his arms.
Not once did I ever see him wearing a shirt.
Not when he left the comfort of his recliner to scream Spanish obscenities at us. Not back in day when I saw him wrestle down at the Sportatorium.
At various times he wrestled under the names of El Diablo, El Toro and The Zebra Kid, when away from Amarillo, but here, in his hometown, he always went by his real name ... Alex Perez.
Before he retired, Alex was a bad guy, a heel when he fought the Von Erichs on television. But all those matches took place in Dallas. In Amarillo he wrestled as a good guy. Back in the 40's he'd been a Golden Gloves champion and a professional baseball player.
To me and my group of friends he was the most interesting guy in the neighborhood. When bored we'd hunt up a bunch of dirt clods and head over to his house.Not caring that he was retired. Not caring that at best he was a card filler. A supporting actor there to prime the audience for the big name wrestlers. Guys like Mike Dibiase Terry Funk, and Harley Race.
Not when we tormented him, but we were enamored by him just the same.
Enamored by this former pro wrestler, me and my buddies would throw the dirt clods at his house until he got mad enough to come out side and chase us away.
We'd point and say, "Look there he is!" as we took off running.
Looking back now I see how stupid we were. No doubt Mr. Perez would have enjoyed talking to us, telling stories had we simply knocked on his door and said we were fans. Instead we antagonized the man simply to get a glimpse of him.
I Google searched his name and discovered that he died of Parkinson's back in 2001 at the age of 71. That means he was in his 50s back when we were tormenting him. Funny .... he seemed much older to us.
I am amazed, but I found an old video of one of his matches. The commentary is in Spanish. I hope Mr. Perez is up in the big ring int he sky wearing a championship belt and getting to enjoy the time is his recliner without crazy kids tossing rocks at his house.
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