Little Man in a Giant's World

At 5 feet, 4 inches tall and 165 pounds, Rey Mysterio has spent his entire career trying to prove that bigger isn't necessarily better in the world of professional wrestling. And the best way to prove that point would be winning the world heavyweight championship at this year's Wrestlemania.

If he wins April 2, Mysterio will become the lightest world heavyweight titlist in pro wrestling history. In an industry that has traditionally favored muscular powerhouses like Bruno Sammartino, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and The Rock, Mysterio has proven wrong naysayers who told him he was too small, couldn't have a believable, entertaining match with the big boys, and that he would never even make it to World Wrestling Entertainment.

Now he is fighting for the world title in a triple-threat match against World Champion (and 1996 Olympic gold medalist) Kurt Angle and fellow contender Randy Orton at Wrestlemania 22. Even Mysterio never believed that he would one day be part of the main event at pro wrestling's biggest annual show.

"No, never," Mysterio told "All my life -- all I ever wanted to do -- was just wrestle. I'm not one of these people who say, 'I should be here at this point in my career,' or 'I should be at this place right now.' I've had people say to me, 'Rey, you deserve much better than this. You should be here.' But I'm not like that. This is what I love to do."

From Laughter to Autographs

Mysterio resembles a superhero more than anyone in WWE. He wears a mask, carrying on a long tradition of colorful masked grapplers who have dazzled audience with a lucha libre -- or "free struggle" -- style of wrestling, made popular in Mexico, that favors acrobatics and high-flying maneuvers.

The real-life Oscar Gutierrez, 31, began training around age 8 and wrestled his first match at age 14. He is a nephew of Mexican wrestler Rey Misterio Sr. and grew up watching his uncle wrestle and train other luchadores. He was mesmerized by them and American wrestling stars such as Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Ricky Steamboat.

Mysterio said he had plenty of doubters when he was trying to launch his pro wrestling career. He was so small that some promoters initially encouraged him to wrestle as a larger-than-average midget -- an offer he declined. All of this prepared him for the obstacles that lay ahead.

"The way my body's chemistry works, no matter how much I ate, no matter how many protein shakes I drank, I couldn't gain any weight," Mysterio said. "In high school, I had a pretty full schedule. After classes I had a job where I would work and then I would go to my uncle's gym and train three hours a day, every day. My classmates would ask me, 'Why don't you go out for football or baseball?' When I told them all I wanted to do was wrestle, they would laugh."

A Tribute to a Fallen Friend

Mysterio did not always have his ring name. He was known briefly as The Green Lizard and then as Colibri (Spanish for "hummingbird") before his uncle honored him by passing on Rey Misterio ("The Mystery King").

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