Letter from Corpus Christi — From the May 2013 issue

Jingo Unchained

Mexican wrestling’s all-American villain

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The spit of land at the mouth of the Nueces River defied five settlement parties before 1839, when a Yankee speculator, Colonel Henry Lawrence Kinney, demonstrated the benefits of illegal trade across the new border separating Texas from Mexico. The colonel, who’d awarded himself that rank for unspecified actions performed in Florida’s Seminole Wars, would go on to pursue a colorful career that included charges of treason and election to the Texas congress before he died in a gunfight in Matamoros. Despite the intercession of a devastating hurricane in 1919, Kinney’s Nueces outpost grew to become present-day Corpus Christi, a city of 307,953 with such tourist attractions as an aquarium, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, and the Mirador de la Flor, a monument to the Tejano pop singer Selena whose inscription reads, in part, her persona enriched the lives of those she touched. There’s also a minor-league ballpark, where one night two summers ago I saw a white man taunt a largely Mexican crowd to the edge of violence.

I arrived at Whataburger Field in the high heat of an early-September afternoon and was met at the gate by a man named Steven Ship. Ship is a ponytailed music-industry veteran turned TV producer turned fight promoter who has spent years trying to bring big-time Mexican wrestling — lucha libre — to the United States. He’d called a few weeks earlier to say that he’d landed a slot on two MTV channels and that there was a new fighter he wanted me to see.

“My name is RJ Brewer, and I’m from the greatest city in the United States: Phoenix, Arizona,” the fighter said in a video that Ship sent me.

I never had to scale a fence to get what I wanted. I cut lawns because I wanted to, not because I had to. See, my mother is a very, very powerful woman, probably the most powerful woman in the United States of America. And she taught me at an early age that if I see something wrong, make it right. That’s exactly what she’s doing in Phoenix, Arizona, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do here.

Ship’s fighter was the make-believe son of Arizona governor Jan Brewer, famous for both her aggressive anti-immigration policies and her finger-wagging confrontation with President Obama beside Air Force One on a Phoenix tarmac.

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is the author of Saving the School, published last August by the Penguin Press. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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  • LeariiIsDumb

    This article is lacking a surprisingly large amount of black bounty hunters killing white people.

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