Over the course of a human lifespan, the average person will work approximately 90,000 hours. (Apparently, punching the time clock sneaks up on you.) As for career change stats, those are surprising, too. While there’s long been a rumor circulating that most workers will change careers seven times, there’s no hard data to prove this.

But we do know the average employee makes a significant job switch around the age of 39.

And roughly 52 percent of Americans mulled the idea of a career change in 2022. Why the switch-up? Some workers get tired and others may feel underappreciated. But most agree higher pay is central to their decision.

When it comes to dramatic career shifts, however, few people compare to Nacho Libre.

From Humble Beginnings to Luchador Fame

He’s known by many names. Nacho Libre. Fray Tormenta. Father Benitez. And he’s had Jack Black play him on the big screen in 2006’s eponymous hit Nacho Libre. But for the man, christened Sergio Gutierrez Benitez, who gained fame as a priest and luchador, life proved tough from the start.

Benitez started out in the school of hard knocks as a gang member and drug addict. By the ripe old age of 22, he added alcoholic to the list. This path represented a no man’s land of poor decisions. And Fray Tormenta soon realized he needed a way out. He turned to the Catholic Church, and more specifically the Piarists Order, for answers.

Because of his humble and difficult beginnings, Benitez had a heart for others’ suffering, and he wasn’t afraid to rub elbows with the so-called “dregs of society.” These qualities have made him an especially compassionate and loving priest. Over time, the budding priest found himself surrounded by thieves, gang members and orphans. People in truly desperate straits.

The Priest Turned Luchador

Not one to take other peoples’ suffering in stride, Benitez began adopting orphans. They moved with him from location to location as he got transferred by the church. Benitez knew how desperately these orphans needed a stable home, but he didn’t know where to get the funding to make this dream a reality.

Eventually, he located an orphanage site in Texcoco but got thwarted again. The local diocese refused to fund the orphanage. So, Benitez had to think outside of the box. And he did in a way that people continue to talk about today. He became a professional wrestler or luchador known as Fray Tormenta. In the ring, he fought bravely and knew how to entertain. He also proved especially generous. Living in abject poverty, despite his growing fame, the luchador donated all of his earnings to support the orphanage.

The Luchador Turned Priest

Nevertheless, Nacho Libre drew the ire of local church officials and soon a compromise had to be reached. Benitez agreed to end his fighting days as long as the diocese supported his orphanage. As his renown grew, Hollywood got interested. All told, Fray Tormenta sold the rights to his life to two different filmmakers. The first film debuted in 1991 as The Man in the Golden Mask and was followed by Jack Black’s previously mentioned triumph.

Fray Tormenta at Mass

Credit: Human Via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Both films earned plenty of attention, and a fascinating thing happened to Fray Tormenta after so many years of shepherding by day and fighting by night. Benitez’s real-life character merged with the golden-masked luchador, and he even started giving communion with the wrestling mask on! No challenge has proven too tough for Nacho Libre in his support of orphans, and his commendable work continues today.

By Engrid Barnett, contributor for Ripleys.com


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