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Fighting for His Mask: The Life of a Lucha Libre Wrestler

Chicago native Joshua Robinson was hooked on Lucha Libre when he first saw it as a kid. Since then, his goal has been to become a 'breakout star' of the venerated Mexican sport.

by Melanie Bencosme /

CHICAGO, Illinois — It all started with a little channel surfing when Joshua Robinson was a kid.

"One fateful Saturday, flipping through the channels, I land on Galavision," recalled Robinson. "I see wrestling, and my eyes just got so big, because it's wrestling that I haven't seen before. I'm seeing these guys with these colorful outfits with these masks, and they're doing these flips and these rolls, they're doing all these cool moves. I'm like, oh my God, what is this?"

Fast forward several years, Robinson was at a wrestling school learning American-style wrestling. But then there was an opening at Galli Lucha Libre, "a hybrid of American wrestling and Lucha Libre," Robinson said. Since then, Robinson has been training and transforming himself as Mojo McQueen, his masked Lucha Libre persona.

"Mojo is a powerful wrestler, he also can be very technical, he can also fly in the air. He's a jack of all trades in the ring."

 Joshua Robinson, when he's not in his Mojo McQueen outfit, in his quest to become a Lucha Libre champion. Melanie Bencosme

Robinson spoke to NBC News as he was getting ready for a crucial Galli Lucha championship win.

"I've worked hard to build Mojo McQueen up. I've worked hard to become one of the best luchadors this company has to offer," he said. "I'm working hard to become the breakout star of Lucha Libre. Me losing this match, no, that's not going to fly."

Robinson then became Mojo McQueen and entered the ring.

He won.

Robinson's quest has encouraged others.

"I had a cousin actually tell me that Mojo McQueen inspired him to chase his dream of being a comedian, because he see what I did, how I started, he knew me ever since we were little, and I'm always wrestling, wrestling, wrestling, wrestling, wrestling on the brain."

His family proudly supports his Lucha Libre quest, including his 10-year-old daughter.

"Most of the shows, she actually sells my merchandise. She sets up the table, she'll put the stuff out there. She might ask me, "How much are we selling these for?" Or she'll just go ahead and do her thing, and that's that."

Robinson hopes his hard work and training pay off into a self-sustaining career.

"I just think that I'm just going to keep putting in the work, keep grounding, hitting the ground running. That's one of my goals is to make it there, but also, I want to go to Japan, I want to go to Mexico," he said.

"If I hit any of those goals, I think that would be a way for me to get, maybe get over to the WWE."

And as he works toward his goal, he's doing what he loves.

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