The world of Mexican wrestling, known as Lucha Libre, is filled with colorful and mysterious characters. They usually hide behind masks, giving the audience only a glimpse of what it’s like to be a superhero. In this world, average people become larger-than-life personas.
One of these personalities is a wrestler known as Piñatita. He’s a regular fixture and a fan favorite in Los Angeles’ luchador scene. What sets him apart and often highlights him is the fact that he’s a mini-luchador—a little person wrestler. To outsiders, the pairing of mini-luchadores with a sport that glorifies physical strength and size may seem like an odd tandem. However, the culture of Mexican wrestling is one that actually highlights their size. In fact, you’ll often see Piñatita fighting alongside his larger counterparts, pulling off dangerous and dazzling moves mid-air.
But when he takes off his mask—something fans rarely get to see—he’s an ordinary man named Arnold Virgen, hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico. He’s a wrestler first and foremost, but he’s also an entertainer having appeared on various television shows, usually mimicking different Hispanic personalities. He’s also a devoted and religious family man with a 12-year-old daughter and a baby on the way, living a quiet and simple life two hours outside of Los Angeles.
It’s quite the contrast to the surreal, extravagant world of Lucha Libre, but he understands that the two worlds are completely separate. In a way, he’s not unlike a comic book superhero, living dual lives. In one, he’s hailed as a champion. In the other, he’s just like the rest of us—except that he has to deal with the unique challenges of being a little person.
-Story originally photographed for Vice. Original article found here.