Amarillo Globe-News – June 6, 2001
By Steve Brannan
For almost 30 years, Alex Perez worked against some of the best wrestlers of his generation — the Funks, the Von Erichs, Killer Karl Kox and Lou Thesz. He was a favorite of many wrestling fans in Amarillo, most notably children.
So when Alex Perez Jr. took his famous father to school during a third-grade parent day, his dad was the object of plenty of attention.
“The kids all saw him and went crazy lining up for autographs,” Perez Jr. said last week. “I really was kind of embarrassed at the time. At that age, you just want to stay in the background. Now that I’ve gotten older, it was really a neat deal. It’s a special thing you think about.”
Seriously struggling today with Parkinson’s Syndrome, Perez remains the same fighter he has been for more than 50 years.
While Perez may have earned much of his acclaim as a wrestler, his first break was as a boxer in the late 1940s. He won regional Golden Gloves tournaments in 1948 and 1949 before playing semi-pro baseball.
For a short while, Perez served as a deputy for the Potter County Sheriff’s office. Eventually, though, Perez’s biggest move was continuing his work in the ring – albeit the wrestling ring.
Playing the role of the bad guy for much of his career, Perez was a mainstay in Amarillo wrestling when the sport was more regionalized prior to the 1980s. He wrestled as El Diablo, El Toro and The Zebra Kid, although he generally went by his own name in matches.
At 5-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Perez endeared himself to fans with his work ethic and attitude in the ring.
“For his size, he was real athletic,” Perez Jr. said. “He used to go above and beyond, trying to do extra things. He was a real flamboyant guy to begin with.”
Perez’s flamboyance was noticed for 28 years before he retired in 1978 at the age of 49. After wrestling, Perez worked at Asarco Inc. before settling down in Dallas in 1992.
While wrestling may not be what it once was with the advent of national promotions, Perez remains a figure entrenched in the history of wrestling in Amarillo.
And certainly the hopes and prayers of the fans he touched years ago go out to he and his family.