Legendary Lucha Libre figure Rayo de Jalisco (Max Linares) has died, according to several reports.
Originally from Mexico City, Linares began wrestling in 1950 under the moniker of “Mr. Misterio” and later wrestled as “Aguila Negra” and would assume his most famous identity more than a decade into his professional career. His older brother, Tony Sugar, trained Linares, and their younger brother also performed as “Black Sugar”.
In the early 60’s he formed a tag team with Blue Demon, who would be linked to the career of Linares right until the end when he finally was unmasked.
He won the NWA middleweight championship for the first time in October 1962 from Rene Guajardo and held it for 18 months until May 1964 when he dropped the title to Benny Galant. He had his second reign as champion in September 1964, defeating Galant and his final reign occurred in April 1969 when he defeated Rene Guajardo and dropped the title to El Solitario at EMLL’s 36th-anniversary event in August 1969.
He formed a tag team with the iconic El Santo and the two became Mexican National tag team champions on two occasions in 1964 and 1966. With partner Tony Benetto, Rayo de Jalisco had a run with the modern version of the same tag titles in October 1985 and dropped them to Cien Caras and Mascara Ano 2000 in April 1986.
He was also able to transition and appear in many movies as a crossover star. Among the titles he appeared in were “Superzam the Invisible” in 1971, “The Robbery of the Mummies of Guanajuato” in 1972, “Becoming the Champions of Justice” in 1972, “The Triumph of the Champions of Justice” in 1974
Rayo de Jalisco won the masks of La Mascara, La Bestia, Guerrero Negro, Mr. Sangre and the team of Los Hermanos Muerte (teaming with Huracan Ramirez) throughout his career.
He was defeated by former partner and rival Blue Demon on July 30th, 1989 in Monterrey, retiring shortly after the unmasking.
Rayo de Jalisco was a member of the inaugural Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame Class in 1996 and inducted into AAA’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
His son, Rayo de Jalisco Jr., has been wrestling since 1975 and is a legendary figure in Lucha in his own right. One of Linares’ grandsons is Rayman, who has also wrestled as El Hijo del Rayo de Jalisco Jr.
Linares was 85 years old at the time of his passing.