His life story inspired the film "Nacho Libre" starring Jack Black as the priest.
There are several sections of society that bear the burden of severe challenges throughout life. Knowing this, many brave and kind people dedicate themselves to doing everything they can to protect or help the vulnerable. Such is the story of Sergio Gutiérrez Benítez, a devout priest who turned to professional wrestling to support the orphan children he was caring for. His life story inspired the film "Nacho Libre" starring Jack Black, reports My Modern Met.
The Mexican priest was better known by his ring name, Fray Tormenta, and worked as a part-time wrestler to earn some extra cash and support underprivileged kids. Sergio was born in San Agustín Metzquititlán, Central Mexico, in 1945. He had a difficult upbringing and was just 11 when he first dealt with addiction. He told El Confidencial: "By the time I turned 18, I had already become a criminal and a thief. I was working to sustain my dosage. I did everything, I [even worked as] an actor and clown in a circus, but I spent everything on my doses and I needed more, so I started stealing."
However, one incident changed the entire course of his life. He visited a church and went into the confession booth looking for redemption. Instead of offering him support, the priest shooed him away. This incident shook him and he decided to get into rehab and become the kind priest that he needed in trying times.
Sergio dedicated his life to helping those battling addiction. However after one person passed away in his arms, he vowed to always aid the poor and eventually built an orphanage. Later, he was ordained as a secular priest in the Texcoco Diocese, which is located close to Mexico City. Sergio built his shelter in 1976 but soon realized that it would be expensive. "El seor Tormenta" or "Mister Storm," a film he had seen years earlier, came to mind. In it, a priest turns pro wrestler to support his orphanage.
Determined to win "a million dollars, like Muhammad Ali," he worked out for four hours early in the morning every day at a gym, finishing up only in time for the 7 a.m. mass. He occasionally arrived in the confessional booth in pain and with bruises. He trained for a year before making his debut, winning his first battle for roughly $15. He decided to use the ring name "Fray Tormenta" as a reflection of the movie and traveled from town to town, hiding his identity behind a red and gold mask.
Fray Tormenta's real name was revealed accidentally, despite the fact that it's customary in Mexican wrestling for a fighter to have their identity exposed after "waging" their mask and losing in battle. "Another famous wrestler, Huracán Ramírez, was to blame. One day he called me on the phone and told me: 'Tormenta, we will fight on Saturday,' and then I slipped out: 'I can't, I have to officiate a wedding.' [He replied] 'Are you really a priest?' I asked him to keep the secret but that Saturday he came to the wedding, and in a few days everyone knew."
He originally intended to be a wrestler for a few years, but ended up competing for 23 years before retiring in the year 2000. He said, "From wrestling, I like that people turn you into an idol and you can use the fame to help them. I can't conceive wrestling just for money if it's not for a cause." He conducts Catholic masses despite being in his late 70s and periodically makes appearances at sporting events. He is also known to wear his mask to church occasionally.
Sergio is quite proud of his orphanage, which he called "Fray Tormenta's Puppies' Children's Home" or "La Casa Hogar de los Cachorros de Fray Tormenta." To date, he has aided approximately 2000 children, some of whom have gone on to become priests, wrestlers, doctors, attorneys and accountants.