Black History Month — 10 essential Afro-Latino sports icons


From Roberto Clemente to Caterine Ibarguen, Afro-Latino athletes spanning varied nationalities and disciplines have left lasting marks on the sports activities world.

Some of those legends won’t be family names to American followers, however they nonetheless function a beacon to those that navigate the difficult waters of id — be that within the U.S. (the place 1 / 4 of Latinos establish as having African roots), elsewhere within the Americas or the Caribbean.

As ESPN prepares to re-air its first Afro-Latino Town Hall (Somos Afro-Latinos, 7 p.m. ET Sunday, Feb. 28, on ESPN2), we’ve got compiled an inventory of 10 important Afro-Latino athletes from throughout the spectrum. The standards was easy sufficient — choose 10 Afro-Latino athletes whose contributions are too large to be ignored. An essential caveat: Brazilians, who do not usually establish as Latinos, had been excluded.

The closing tally was nonetheless spectacular in its personal proper. Among the athletes chosen:

  • A Cuban sprinter who overcame a horrific accident to earn each accolade possible save for Olympic gold.

  • An attacking midfielder from Peru worthy of being talked about in the identical breath as Pele.

  • A prolific Dominican slugger who moved to New York City as an adolescent and continues to inch up the all-time residence run record.

  • A Hall of Fame boxer and world champion in three weight courses from Puerto Rico who defeated America’s personal Golden Boy in his prime.

As he was with final summer time’s Latino Face of Baseball mission for Hispanic Heritage Month, Clemente is a featured participant right here as properly. The goal now’s to make clear the feats of those that won’t have loved the mainstream highlight within the U.S. however have nonetheless made essential contributions to their sports activities and international locations.

Roberto Clemente

Sport: Baseball
Country of origin: Puerto Rico

Roberto Clemente was powered by what he preached. Perhaps the very best instance of this: “Any time you’ve gotten a chance to make a distinction on this world and you do not, then you might be losing your time on Earth,” he mentioned. Clemente died on New Year’s Eve 1972 when the airplane he was on, which was carrying provides to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua as a part of a aid mission, went down over water. Major League Baseball’s prime humanitarian award, given to the participant whose deeds off the sphere greatest exemplify Clemente’s spirit, bears his identify. On the sphere, Clemente was simply as dynamic. He was the primary Latin American participant to achieve 3,000 profession hits. The two-time World Series champion completed with a profession batting common of .317, and his .328 common within the Sixties was by far the very best throughout a span outlined by dominant pitching. Clemente gained 12 Gold Gloves and was a 15-time All-Star. With a robust and correct proper arm, he led the majors in outfield assists in six seasons and compiled 266 for his profession — essentially the most by an outfielder previously 80 years. Still, it was at all times about far more than greatness on the sphere to Clemente. He was totally acutely aware of his impression as a Black and Puerto Rican public determine, by no means lacking a chance to denounce racism and discrimination.

Teofilo Cubillas

Sport: Soccer
Country of origin: Peru

It was on the 1970 World Cup in Mexico the place the nice Pele declared he had discovered the individual to whom he would move his torch as soccer’s best participant. “Don’t fear. I’ve discovered a successor, and it is Teofilo Cubillas,” Pele mentioned. The 21-year-old Cubillas scored 5 targets in Peru’s 4 World Cup matches and was named the event’s greatest younger participant — which together with Pele’s phrases elevated him to legendary standing on his technique to changing into the best participant from his nation. A midfielder who was forward of his time, Cubillas did not take lengthy to make an impression in Europe. He had a short stint with Swiss membership Basel however got here into his personal at Porto, whose followers contemplate him an all-time idol. He gained the Bronze Boot in Mexico in 1970 and the Silver Boot eight years later in Argentina, main Peru to the World Cup quarterfinal on each events. He additionally guided Peru to Copa America titles in 1975 and 1987. Cubillas additional cemented his place within the hearts of Peruvians when he got here out of retirement to affix a reconstructed Alianza Lima after many of the crew’s members died in a 1987 airplane crash.

Caterine Ibarguen

Sport: Track and area
Country of origin: Colombia

With an ever-present smile, Ibarguen modified the face of Colombian sport as one of many best triple jumpers of all time. She recorded the sixth-longest soar ever — 15.31 meters (50.23 toes), achieved in 2014 — and gained Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016. She can also be a five-time medalist on the world championships and a two-time winner on the Pan American Games. Ibarguen’s run, together with dominant performances within the triple and lengthy jumps on the Diamond League, earned her IAAF honors because the Female Athlete of the Year in 2018.

Mijain Lopez

Sport: Greco-Roman wrestling
Country of origin: Cuba

It is a choose few who can declare to be the uncontested best ever of their sport. Cuba’s Lopez is one Olympic gold away from coming into that class. The 38-year-old wrestler got here out of retirement in a bid to win his fourth straight Olympic gold in Greco-Roman wrestling on the Tokyo Games — a feat that might place him over Russia’s Aleksandr Karelin (three golds, one silver) because the GOAT. Lopez’s greatest challenges may come from Lopez himself as he fends off accidents and watches his weight. Still, he might be thought-about a favourite to win his fourth gold in Tokyo regardless of his age. Aside from his Olympic résumé, Lopez additionally has gained 5 world championships, three World Cups and 5 Pan American titles.

Mireya Luis

Sport: Volleyball
Country of origin: Cuba

Volleyball legend Luis packed lots of the qualities present in the very best world-class athletes inside her 5-foot-9 body. The vary of her leaping potential would have simply lined the usual 10-foot peak of an NBA rim. Luis was unstoppable on the courtroom, maybe the very best feminine volleyball participant of all time. She led Cuba to a runner-up end on the 1986 ladies’s world volleyball championship in Prague simply 18 days after giving start to her solely daughter. Over the subsequent decade, Luis steered some of the dominant volleyball dynasties of all time as Cuba captured each Olympic and world championship gold between Barcelona 1992 and Sydney 2000.

Minnie Miñoso

Sport: Baseball
Country of origin: Cuba

The Cuban native opened the door for Afro-Latinos within the majors when he debuted for the Cleveland Indians in 1949 — two years after Jackie Robinson knocked down racial limitations in baseball. However, it wasn’t till Miñoso was traded to the Chicago White Sox that he acquired common enjoying time and have become a Windy City legend within the course of. He batted above .300 on eight events, drove in over 100 4 occasions and completed with a median of .298 and 1,023 RBIs over a profession that spanned 5 a long time. Despite his numbers and longevity — Miñoso’s closing look got here in 1980 at age 54 — he has not been elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Sport: Baseball
Country of origin: Dominican Republic

The Dominican-born Pujols, who grew up partly in New York and Missouri, stacked up season after season of spectacular baseball from 2001 to 2011, a feat that places him facet by facet with the all-time greats. In these first 11 seasons of his profession, Pujols put up a line of .328/.420/.617/1.037 to go along with an OPS+ of 170. In the meantime, he led the St. Louis Cardinals to 2 championships, hit 445 residence runs and averaged 121 RBIs. His accomplishments embrace a Rookie of the Year award in 2001, a batting title, six Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves and three MVPs (ending second in that voting on 4 different events). Injuries slowed the “The Machine” a bit after he joined the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. However, they have not saved him from reaching Hall of Fame numbers: 3,236 hits, 669 doubles, 662 residence runs, 2,100 RBIs, 1,843 runs and a 100.7 WAR. When all is alleged and performed, Pujols can have the credentials to be thought-about not solely the best Latino ballplayer of all time however among the many greatest ever no matter background.

Ana Fidelia Quirot

Sport: Track and area
Country of origin: Cuba

Quirot, whose specialty was the 800 meters, is an icon all through Latin America. She was the primary Latina athlete to win the IAAF’s Athlete of the Year award in 1989. She was properly into her prime when in 1993 she suffered an accident in her condo whereas seven months pregnant that left her with third-degree burns throughout her chest, face and arms. Her baby was delivered prematurely consequently and didn’t survive. However, Quirot continued on the monitor regardless of the tragedy. Nine months and 21 surgical procedures later, her silver-medal effort on the Central American and Caribbean Games continues to offer followers chills. Despite often returning to the working desk, Quirot would win gold on the world championships in 1995 and 1997. She additionally secured silver on the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Her private better of 1:54.44 within the 800 stays the usual within the Pan American area.

Felix Sanchez

Sport: Track and area
Country of origin: United States

A person of many nicknames, “Super Felix,” who was born to Dominican mother and father in New York and raised in California, had some of the resilient 12-year runs of any Olympic athlete. After falling brief within the semifinals of the 400-meter hurdles in Sydney 2000, he arrived in Athens 4 years later having gained 43 straight within the occasion — together with the world championships in 2001 and 2003 — on his technique to delivering the Dominican Republic its first Olympic gold medal. He did not make it out of qualifying at Beijing 2008 and seemed to be previous his prime. With low expectations coming into London 2012, Sanchez nonetheless captured an emotional victory in changing into the primary Olympian not representing the U.S. to win two gold medals within the 400 hurdles — and at 34 grew to become the oldest gold medalist within the occasion’s historical past on the Games.

Felix “Tito” Trinidad

Sport: Boxing
Country of origin: Puerto Rico

Considered the most effective punchers of all time in his class, Trinidad gained belts as a welterweight, an excellent welterweight and a middleweight. Given his variations with Puerto Rico’s boxing federation, “Tito” by no means acquired a shot at vying for Olympic glory on the 1992 Games in Barcelona. However, he would defeat three Olympic champions inside the course of a yr in his skilled profession — Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya and David Reid. Trinidad additionally made 15 profitable title defenses as a welterweight on his technique to a 42-3 mark, together with 35 wins by knockout. Trinidad’s victories on the canvas had been a supply of delight and celebration in Puerto Rico, the place he stays a beloved determine.

Compiled by Hiram Martínez and Damián L. Delgado Averhoff.



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