|Miguel Perez was featured on the cover of
this 1958 program from St. Nicholas Arena in New York
Miguel Perez Sr., one-half of one of the most
successful tag teams of all time, died Saturday at the
age of 68. Perez suffered a heart attack while taking
a morning shower at his home in Puerto Rico.
Perez teamed with Argentina Rocca during the late
1950s to headline cards up and down the East Coast for
Capitol Sports, the forerunner of the WWE. The duo
lost only one recorded tag team match in a period that
spanned about 20 years.
The pair first hit the mat together in early 1957. The
high-flying Rocca was slowing down, and promoters saw
an opportunity to pair him with a good-looking, young
Perez was born in Puerto Rico in 1937.
The IWA-Puerto Rico Web site acknowledged his passing,
saying, "Today we lost the best fighter of Puerto
Rico, but the sky gained an angel."
Perez, whose first name was Jose, actually started in
the New York area as a heel. Wrestling historian Fred
Hornby recalled that he was elevated to main event
status because he appeared to be the best of the
available ethnic wrestlers at the time.
"Everybody pictures him with the white trunks and the
white books -- when he broke in, he was a heel. It wasn't
for long. It was only for a few weeks. He was in black
trunks and black boots," Hornby recalled. Perez and
Rocca "hitched up and the rest is history."
His primary duty as part of the team was to take a
beating before tagging Rocca for a fiery comeback.
"Perez, not a polished wrestler or showman, is usually
pummeled by the villains to the point where his
pompadour is dismantled. Then Rocca, seeking revenge
for the abuse to Perez' hair tonic, springs into
action," writer Gay Talese reported in The New York
As a combo, Rocca and Perez were box office magic to
the Latino community. They headlined 28 of 34 cards at
Madison Square Garden from 1957 to 1960, and were
undefeated all the time. They faced The Fargo
Brothers, The Fabulous Kangaroos, and The Tolos
Brothers and the Golden Grahams, among other teams,
and easily drew larger crowds on a regular basis than
any team in the history of the federation.
Their only reported loss came after they re-teamed in
Puerto Rico as WWC North American champions in 1976.
They lost to Gordon Nelson and Higo Hamaguchi that
October. Rocca died the following year.
Perez continued as an undercard worker in the
then-WWWF through most of the 1960s. He teamed with
Victor Rivera for several months in 1968, his last in
the WWWF. He also appeared in the Buffalo area at that
time. He spent most of the rest of his career in
Puerto Rico and held the WWC Puerto Rican championship
four times from 1974 to 1977 against Tosh Togo,
Hurrican Castillo and others.
His son, Miguel Perez Jr., wrestled for the WWF as one
of Los Boricuas in the 1990s and is active in the IWA
promotion in Puerto Rico.
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Order The Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame: The Tag Teams
Steven Johnson is the co-author of The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams, which features Perez & Rocca.