Posted May 9th, 2016 by 1Wrestling News Team

Johnny Lezcano Smith also known as Kato Kung Lee one of the most revolutionary luchadores of his era passed away on 5/7 after a massive heart attack which followed a week of serious health issues where he underwent surgery on 4/30 and never quite fully recovered afterwards. There were rumors of his death the day before he did that were strong enough that they did a moment of applause for him at Arena Mexico which saw friend and former rival Brazo de Plata openly weeping in the ring and everyone started sending their condolences on social media before the family sent word through Apolo Valdes of Medio Tiempo that he was still alive but fighting for his life and they were upset at all of the rumors but he did die the next day.

Johnny was born in the Arraijan district of Panama City, Panama on December 9th, 1946 as the oldest of 4 brothers. Johnny became enamored with Tae Kwan Do & Judo as a child and started studying the arts at the YMCA in Panama City where his mother also urged him to learn the English language but he never told his parents that while he was learning to speak English, he was also learning how to fight. Johnny was taught by not only the natives but also foreign fighters that would come through to work on different shows but would train at the YMCA. Johnny would learn wrestling though from his maestro Chámaco Castro who taught him at the Instituto Nacional and he also learned weightlifting at the Gimnasio Barraza from Humberto Selvetti who was a bronze medalist in the 1952 and silver medalist in 1956 Olympics because Johnny had a desire to learn everything he could to master his craft. Besides learning all of this, Johnny also was preparing for a life outside of sports as he graduated from the Instituto Thomas Alva Edisón where he got a degree in working on air conditioners.

Johnny waited until he was 18 years old to make his debut in Lucha Libre and started working at Gimnasio Neco de la Guardia under a mask known as El Valiente where he displayed not only his Lucha knowledge but his Martial Arts knowledge as well which created a new style that no one had ever seen before. Johnny couldn’t keep his secret from his parents long though and they figured out what he was doing and started attending the shows without him even knowing it. He would run home after the shows beating them there and when they got home he would be sitting in his room eating ice cream while his brothers would cover for him because they didn’t even know that his parents was going to the shows. They eventually would let him know they knew what he was doing and even told him one night as he was sitting at home looking worn out that he was the one that wanted to wrestle. Johnny’s mother though wanted more from him and she told him that she wanted him to go to the United States and join the Navy but didn’t want to be a part of a volatile scene of the time which was the beginning of the Vietnam War so he fled to Colombia where he stayed for 3 months struggling to make a living before fleeing to Guatemala where he took on the character of Rayo de Oro. After leaving Guatemala, he went to El Salvador where he won the Central American Welterweight Title from Chato Sosa at Arena Metropolitana. Johnny gained valuable knowledge from legendary Central America luchador Oswaldo Johnson who was promoting at this time but he would get in the ring with the young boys to teach them and Johnny cherished learning from such a legendary figure.

Johnny would soon return to Colombia unmasked this time working as Johnny Brown and then worked in Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, and then finally moving to Mexico City in 1970 on advice from luchador Canelo Segura where he went to work for Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre under the name of Johnny Lezcano. Johnny had to wait a month though before he could compete for his paperwork to be finalized but once he was able to work, Lezcano worked as himself for a while including losing his hair for the first time to Villano I on February 18th, 1976 in Veracruz. He then went to Juarez working as El Jaguar where he was sent to be seasoned more and he got a call from Paco Alonso saying that they needed a new masked wrestler who was different and thus emerged Kato Kung Lee. This new character forced Johnny to tap into all of his knowledge of his training as a youth in all forms of fighting and they wanted him to train some of their other young guys to prepare partners for him which the first one would be Kung Fu. Kato & Kung Fu would find instant success together as a team winning the Arena Coliseo Tag Titles but it wasn’t until October 27th, 1978 where they achieved their first big glory as they took the masks of Los Jaliscos I y II at Arena Mexico. 1979 saw an interesesting development as Kato & Kung Fu took on a new partner in Satoru Sayama who was on a learning excursion from New Japan and they formed El Triángulo Oriental where they wowed fans across the country with their hybrid of Martial Arts & Lucha Libre. Kato would break out as a singles wrestler in 1980 as on January 19th he won the NWA Middleweight Title from Americo Rocca before losing the belt on May 4th to El Supremo. 1981 saw a big career move for Kato & Kung Fu as they left EMLL to join the rival Universal Wrestling Association and it was there they picked up a new partner named Blackman to form the original version of Los Fantasticos. UWA at this time was known for their outstanding trios teams such as Los Brazos, Los Villanos, Los Cadetes del Espacio, Los Temerarios, El Triangulo de la Muerte, Los Exoticos, and various others and Los Fantasticos were among the best of the bunch. They would win the UWA Trios Titles on March 18th, 1984 beating Los Cadetes del Espacio in the finals of the tournament to crown the first champions before losing those titles to Los Misioneros de la Muerte later in the year.

This era also saw EMLL & UWA working together running joint shows where all of the best wrestlers in the country were working against each other but in 1985 there was friction among the Fantasticos as they all went their separate ways as Kung Fu decided to stay in EMLL, Blackman went back to UWA, and Kato Kung Lee decided to become a true independent working wherever he wanted to basically ending the original Los Fantasticos which promoters tried to find that magic again years later but no one could touch the originals. Kato would eventually return to EMLL in 1986 as a rudo which was new for him and on November 28th, 1986, he lost his mask to Hijo del Santo at the Auditorio Municipal de Tijuana then lost his hair 15 days later at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles to Perro Aguayo as part of a 3 Way match with Hijo del Santo. It was after this that a new rivalry would begin as Kato started feuding with his former partner and protege Kung Fu in a feud that lasted for well over a year until Kato lost his hair to Kung Fu on April 29th, 1988 at Arena Mexico. Kato would soon bounce around Mexico for basically the rest of his career where he would compete in some big apuestas match losing more than winning such as losing his hair to El Signo at Arena Mexico on January 29th, 1989, Satanico at Arena Mexico on June 21st, 1991, Bestia Salvaje at Arena Mexico on March 13th, 1992, Javier Cruz at Arena Mexico on December 18th, 1992, Mocho Cota at Arena Mexico on December 10th, 1993, Bombero Infernal at Arena Naucalpan on December 5th, 1999, and to Virus on September 2nd, 2001 at Auditorio Flores Magon. Kato did though get some revenge on Kung Fu as he beat Kung Fu for his hair on March 1st, 1991 at Arena Mexico.

Kato would go on many trips to Japan in the 1990′s and it was those trips he thought that hurt his status in EMLL because when he would come back they would only book him on spot shows because they thought since he was paid well in Japan he didn’t need to work the higher profile shows. Kato had one of the stranger matches in the early 2000′s as during the wacky Lucha Libre vs. MMA feud in the DEEP promotion he fought Kazuki Okubo on August 18th, 2001 and lost although at the age of 55 he held up well. Kato was forced to retire in 2007 after suffering from a pulmonary thrombosis but would still appear at various legend tribute shows.

If you have never seen any of Kato Kung Lee in his prime as a member of Los Fantasticos, search out what you can because they were as flashy and revolutionary of a team as anyone else in their era.

Descanse en Paz, Kato Kung Lee.

Konnan has started a video podcast on YouTube with Roberto Figueroa & Aldo Farias called Podcast BOOM and the first episode was uploaded over the weekend and Konnan was extremely critical of what is going on in AAA. This is similar to Konnan’s stuff with MLW Radio just in Spanish.


EMLL 5/6 – Arena Mexico
1. Hombre Bala Jr. & Super Halcon Jr. beat Espanto Jr. & Hijo del Signo by DQ.
2. Blue Panther Jr./The Panther/Pegasso defeated Escandalo/Fujin/Raijin
3. Angel de Oro/Brazo de Plata/Fuego beat Rey Hechicero/Vangelis/Bobby Z by DQ
4. Lightning Match: Rey Bucanero defeated Titan
5. Rey Cometa/Valiente/Volador Jr. beat La Peste Negra (El Barbaro Cavernario/Felino/Negro Casas)
6. Relevos Increibles: Marco Corleone/Damian el Terrible/Ultimo Guerrero defeated La Mascara/Rush/Rey Escorpion after the losing team fell apart.

EMLL 5/7 – Arena Coliseo
1. Inquisidor beat Bengala
2. Leono defeated Camorra
3. Flyer beat Artillero
4. Hombre Bala Jr. defeated Nitro
5. Triton beat Disturbio – After the match there was a moment of applause held for Kato Kung Lee.
6. Blue Panther & Esfinge defeated Puma King & Tiger who was injured during the match after the top rope broke which they had to stop the match to repair it. Blue Panther quit the match after Tiger was helped out leaving Esfinge & Puma and the fans threw money in the ring afterwards in appreciation.
7. Brazo de Plata/La Mascara/Titan beat Ephesto/Luciferno/Ripper by DQ when Luciferno fouled Mascara who had issues with his partners.

EMLL 5/8 – Arena Mexico
1. Bengala & Flyer beat Apocalipsis & Cholo
2. Mini Fantasy/Shockercito/Ultimo Dragoncito defeated Pequeno Olimpico/Pequeno Violencia/Pierrothito
3. Esfinge/Oro Jr./Triton beat Cancerbero/Sangre Azteca/Tiger who after being injured the night before worked this match.
4. Guerrero Maya Jr./Stuka Jr./Titan defeated El Comando Caribeno (Misterioso II/Pierroth/Sagrado) who couldn’t get along with each other.
5. Ephesto/Mephisto/Rey Escorpion beat Atlantis/Mascara Dorada/Maximo Sexy with Scorp going over Atlantis and demanded a shot at his Mexican National Lt. Heavyweight Title next week.

IWRG 5/8 – Arena Naucalpan
1. Adrenalina & Omega beat Aramis & Magnum 44
2. Astro & Dragon Fly defeated Atomic Star & Hip Hop Man
3. Canadian Lumberjack Match: El Comando Elite (Factor/Rayan/Spartan/Spector) beat Los Ninja Turtles (Leo/Miike/Rafy/Teelo) and the Elite demanded a shot at the Mexican State Trios Title afterwards.
4. Danny Casas/Hijo del Alebrije/Veneno defeated Golden Magic/Negro Navarro/Trauma II
5. Dinamic Black/Emperador Azteca/Freelance beat Cerebro Negro/Herodes Jr./The Killer Jr. and after the match there was a moment of applause for Kato Kung Lee.
6. Relevos Increibles: Trauma I & Canis Lupus defeated Hijo del Dos Caras & Mascara Ano Dos Mil Jr. and afte the match Trauma gave Canis a Martinete causing him to get stretchered out. Danny Casas then ran out and there were multiple apuestas challenges.

Category: Wrestling.

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