Priests typically teach their parishioners that violence is never the answer. To lead by example, they often commit to a life of non-violence since all life is considered precious.
However, one legendary Mexican priest made waves when he determined that, in his case, fighting actually was the answer. For more than 40 years, the priest has used violence to do good in his community after he controversially became a professional Lucha Libre fighter…
Featured Photo Credit: El OBSERVADOR de la actualidad / YouTube
A Difficult Beginning
On February 5, 1945, Sergio Gutiérrez was born in a remote town in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. According to Sergio, he was the 17th of 18 children in his family and his parents struggled to provide for the large brood. After the family experienced some trouble, they left for a new start and settled in a poor neighborhood in Mexico City.
Fighting To Survive
While growing up in the slums of Mexico City, Sergio learned how to fight and even joined a gang by the time he was just nine years old. Shortly after joining the gang, Sergio started smoking marijuana, which was the gateway for more drug use and abuse.
“At first you smoked to see what it felt like, then pills here and there, then cocaine, and from there all of it,” Sergio told Vice in an interview. When he wasn’t at school or working in a pencil factory, Sergio was typically doing drugs and getting into trouble.
Heading Down A Bad Path
According to Sergio, life on the streets of Mexico City was a constant fight. Even though he was just a child, he ended up getting stabbed, beaten, shot and was once hit over the eye with a glass bottle. By the time he was 20 years old, Sergio was a full-fledged addict.
Around that time in his life, Sergio wandered into a church in the neighborhood to confess his sins. He told the priest that he was a drug addict and that he wanted to get help. “This isn’t a rehab center,” the priest said before throwing the lost soul out on the street.
A Life-Changing Moment
While the priest may have turned his back on the young addict, it ended up being a life-changing moment for Sergio and became one of the best things that ever happened to him. At that moment, Sergio couldn’t help but think that troubled youths like himself would be able to change if only priests were more understanding.
“If there were cool priests, ‘de buena onda,’ a lot of us would change,” Sergio said. At that moment, Sergio decided he would become a ‘cool priest’. However, before he could help others, he had to first get clean. So Sergio entered himself into a rehab program that promised him they would get him through the withdrawal but that only he could get over his addiction.
Joining The Seminary
Once clean, Sergio entered a seminary in Toluca, the capital of Mexico State not just to become a priest but to get away from temptations in his home city. However, he was thrown out within a week for punching a fellow seminarian. “How are you going to break a wild colt from night to morning,” Sergio said.
Getting To Work
According to Sergio, he enrolled at a different seminary, which sent him to study in Barcelona, Navarra, and then Rome. Once finished, he was sent back to Mexico to work as a lay minister at a church in Veracruz. According to Sergio, the run-down area was full of prostitutes, drug addicts, and delinquents.
The locals made it known that they didn’t want the clergy in the area, and decided to challenge Sergio. They told him he could only stay if he fought one of them. “If I fight, what would people think? But if I don’t fight,” Sergio thought to himself at the time. The group was sure Sergio would turn down their offer, but he surprisingly accepted.
Lifting Up The Community
After earning their respect, Sergio made it his mission to help his parish as much as possible by getting them out of trouble and helping out whenever they were in need. According to Sergio, he had been content working as a lay minister until a local teenager died in his arms as he begged for Sergio to hear his confession, which he technically couldn’t do as he wasn’t a priest.
Days later, Sergio decided he needed to become a priest and on May 26, 1973, Sergio was ordained and became Padre Sergio. Soon after, he started taking in orphans and did whatever he could to provide for the dozen boys that he housed at the parish. And when he was eventually transferred to a different parish, the orphans followed him wherever he went until he finally settled in the quiet city of Texcoco where he still lives.
The Rise Of Fray Tormenta
The diocese welcomed Padre Sergio and his orphanage but told him they would not provide any funds and that the priest would have to figure out how to provide for the children for himself. “And from there,” Padre Sergio explained, “arises Fray Tormenta.”
Training To Fight
Padre Sergio decided he would moonlight as a lucha libre wrestler in order to make money for his orphanage. “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to carry this thing out’,” he explained. So for a year, Padre Sergio woke up at 4:30 in the morning, traveled an hour to a gym in Mexico City, and trained before returning for 8 a.m. mass.
The Luchador Priest
He started earning a small amount of money but built up a massive following as ‘Fray Tormenta’ the priest lucha libre fighter. “What happened is that without my intending it, Fray Tormenta has become a symbol,” Padre Sergio explained. “The luchador priest.”
Saved By A Bluff
When the bishop discovered what the priest was doing, however, he demanded Padre Sergio to give up fighting. He told them he would only stop fighting if the diocese gave his orphanage the money he was earning in the ring. According to Padre Sergio, it was all a bluff as he wasn’t making much money at that point. Yet the diocese didn’t know that, so they finally agreed to let him keep fighting as Fray Tormenta.
When Fray Tormenta started making a name for himself, he started earning more money. Padre Sergio continued living in poverty and used all the money to expand the orphanage and provide three meals a day for every orphan. Over the decades, Padre Sergio has continued to pour every cent he earned through his fighting career into his orphanage.
Helping Thousands Through Fighting
In around 40 years, Padre Sergio managed to help more than 2,000 children thanks to his controversial fighting career. After finally retiring from the ring, the now 73-year-old priest has continued to use whatever fame he still has to earn money for his orphanage.
A Life Of Poverty
“I want you to know that I never sought fame out,” Padre Sergio explained. “I sought out money, which never came. But from the little that God gave me, through people, many have been able to benefit.” For the priest, his entire life has been about putting his work and his orphanage above all else. “They always had bread in their mouths. There was always something. And me? Look at the luxuries I have. I don’t have a single luxury. I was born into poverty.”
A Beloved Priest
In recent years, Padre Sergio’s has started experiencing health problems. Yet he continues his work with the orphanage and is a pillar in his community. “He’s very compassionate,” a parishioner named Sofia told Vice. “He helps everybody so much. The truth is, he’s reached out his hand to us, and for that reason, everybody loves him.”