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Latinos Are Some Of The Strongest And Best Boxers And These Athletes Prove It

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Boxing is the one sport in which those individuals that come from an underprivileged background or have had to lace up the gloves to escape street violence can have their own rags to riches stories. Many of the greatest boxers of all time come from ethnic and cultural minorities, or from Global South regions such as Latin America. Today, world boxing is dominated by a handful of Latin American boxers and fighters of Latino origin in the United States. From junior flyweight all the way to heavyweight, Latino boxers are enjoying a dominance that translates into accomplished dreams and millions of dollars. Here are 13 established and upcoming fighters across most of the weight classes that are vanquishing their opposition and writing their names on the annals of global pugilism.

1. Saúl Canelo Álvarez
Weight class: middleweight

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The current king of boxing in financial terms. No one has made more money after Floyd Mayweather retired from boxing a couple of years ago. The Mexican Canelo has just signed a $350 million dollar deal with the streaming service DAZN and will fight again on September 14, Mexican Independence weekend, in Las Vegas. His opponent is yet to be confirmed, but it seems it will not be Gennady Golovkin, but perhaps the world light-heavyweight champ Sergey Kovalev. If that is the case and Canelo defeats him, he will prove his worth against a much heavier and much more powerful puncher. By this point we are all surprised by the amazing things Canelo can accomplish in the ring.

2. Andy “Destroyer” Ruiz
Weight class: heavyweight

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This native of Imperial Valley became an elite boxer after soundly defeating British champ Anthony Joshua in a shocking fashion. No one, other than experts and insiders, would have predicted a KO win by Ruiz, whose flabby physique contrasted with the muscular Joshua. He will make millions in the rematch, which is rumored for September, and win or lose he will increase his popularity among Latinos the world over. Mexican-Americans can now claim a champ amongst them.

3. Juan Francisco “Gallo” Estrada
Weight class: super flyweight

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This Mexican veteran is a true master of the craft. He recently defeated the Thai dynamo Sor Rungvisai, who had defeated the amazing Nicaraguan Chocolatito Gonzalez. Estrada combines savvy counterpunching with exquisite lateral movements and is bound to become a top pound-for-pound star in the lower weight classes. 

4. Teofimo Lopez
Weight class: lightweight

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This brutal puncher has quickly established himself as the top prospect in boxing. He is an American of Central American descent, and his fists have put him in line to challenge the pound-for-pound king, Ukranian Vassily Lomachenko. Only time will tell how far this bombastic pugilist will go, but he is must-watch TV and the diamante en bruto of powerful promoter Bob Arum. 

5. Zurdo Ramirez
Weight class: light heavyweight

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This powerful Mexican ex-champ recently moved up from super middleweight, where he enjoyed a great reign. He is ready to mingle with the big boys in the light heavyweight class. He is hungry and undefeated, a deadly combination. His persona is as ranchero as it comes, sombrero included, so he has captivated Latino audiences in the United States. 

6. Luis Panterita Nery
Weight class: bantamweight

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This former champ is undefeated and fights in a category in which the indomitable Monster, Japanese fighter Inoue, reigns supreme. Nery, a native of Tijuana, reminds us of the great Erik Terrible Morales in his precision punching and big cojones. After losing his title on the scale he is ready for big things and making up for lost time. 

7. Rigoberto “El Chacal” Rigondeaux
Category: super bantamweight

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This Cuban fighter is one of the best amateurs in history and has only one defeat in his record. He has been around for a while, but because of his exquisite defensive skills he is sometimes deemed as a boring fighter. In his latest fight, however, he went toe-to-toe with Mexican Julio Ceja, which made for a more audience-friendly demonstration of the escuela cubana del boxeo

8. Elwin “Pulga” Soto
Weight class: junior flyweight

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This Mexican just scored a huge upset by knowking out Puerto Rican raising star Angel Acosta. Mexico has given amazing fighters in this category (remember Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez?), and Soto could be the next in line to be a Hall of Famer. Even if his skills have to be polished a bit more, he possesses a fighting style reminiscent of the great punchers of the 1970s.

9. Vergil Ortiz Jr.
Weight class: welterweight

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Some consider him the top prospect in boxing. He fights in an elite category that includes Errol Spence Jr. and Terrence Crawford, perhaps two of the best fighters in the world. Ortiz has just demolished every single opponent due to his precise body punching and fierceness. His motto: hard work. He takes nothing for granted and seems to be destined for greatness. Born in the United States, Ortiz is proud of his heritage and often wears the Mexican national colors, verde blanco colorado

10. Jaime Munguia
Weight class: super welterweight

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This young champ started making headlines in 2018, when he was mentioned as a possible opponent for Gennady Golovkin when the May 2018 fight against Canelo fell through. Munguia is an all-action fighter that, however, still needs some work on his defense. He will eventually fight Canelo or GGG and surely produce an unforgettable fight. The native of Tijuana signed with streaming DAZN, just like Canelo, so we are sure there are big plans in store for him. But, as we said, he has to work on his defense or a big puncher might take him.

11. King Ryan Garcia
Weight class: super featherweight

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The Mexican-American golden boy has been touted as the successor of Oscar De la Hoya and Canelo: he is a charmer who is as galancito with the ladies as he is a killer in the ring. He possesses otherworldly speed and good instincts inside the ring. He is yet to be tested, though, which reveals the care that promoter Oscar De la Hoya has had in not rushing him into the elite circles just yet.  

12. David Benavidez
Weight class: super middleweight

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This former super middleweight champ was stripped from his title in 2018 after testing positive for cocaine. He is back with a vengeance and after admitting his guilt on social media he is determined to get back what he lost out of his own fault. Only time will tell, but he has one of the fastest hands in the upper divisions. A fight against Zurdo Ramirez would be a barn burner, one of those Latino classics. He is a native of Phoenix, Arizona. 

13. Luis “King Kong” Ortiz
Weight class: heavyweight

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This gargantuan Cuban puncher was very close to becoming the champ when he had Deontay Wilder on the verge of a knockout. He eventually lost a few rounds later but will fight a rematch in September. If he pulls off the upset, and he very well might be given his technique and ring generalship, we will have two Latinos, him and Andy Ruiz, calling the shots in the holy grail of boxing: the heavyweight championship of the world.

READ: Andy Ruiz Jr. Might Be A New Boxing Champion But He Doesn’t Start Any Fight Without His Snickers

There Is Still A Lot Of Mystery About The First-Ever Latino To Play In The MLB

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There Is Still A Lot Of Mystery About The First-Ever Latino To Play In The MLB

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When it comes to crossing racial barriers in baseball, Jackie Robinson is the first name that comes to mind for many. However, before there was Robinson, there was Luis “Lou” Manuel Castro, the first Latino player in baseball’s modern era and the first to play in Major League Baseball. While his name might not be in the same regard or even known to many like Robinson, Castro earned the important distinction.

But unlike Robinson, Castro’s playing career was short, only lasting 42 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1902 season where he batted for a .245 average. This might be why Castro isn’t as highly regarded or well known as the baseball Hall of Famer who broke baseball’s color line in 1947.

There might be another reason the name Lou Castro isn’t a household name. There are conflicting reports on where he was actually born.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

There is some mystery when it comes to the legacy of Castro that many point to where he was really born. There are some reports that say Castro listed New York City as his birthplace later in his place but it’s widely agreed that he was born in 1876 in Medellin, Colombia. Castro would only stay in Colombia for eight years as his family and he would move to the U.S. due to the country’s political instability during that period. Castro’s family traveled by boat to the U.S. where they arrived in New York. 

According to Nick Martinez, a baseball historian who studied Castro’s life, a list of passengers he researched shows that an 8-year-old Castro was indeed on the S.S. Colon, which arrived in New York City on October 16, 1885, supporting the case that he did arrive from Colombia.

During his teen years, Castro would pick up baseball and by the age of 17 years old, he joined the Manhattan College baseball team. He was known to have quite the sense of humor among teammates and garnered the nickname “Judge.” He’d continue his playing career across multiple minor league clubs before getting his big break at the major leagues. Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack got a good look at Castro and offered him a try-out that resulted in him joining the Philadelphia Athletics.

While his run as a major league player was short with the Athletics, Castro still made enough of an impact to say he contributed to the club clinching the 1902 American League pennant. According to Remezcla, the rookie was invited to be a part of the team’s year-end banquet where gave an acceptance speech on behalf of some fellow teammate. The celebration even resulted in him singing some songs in Spanish. 

There is also the highly debated theory that Castro was somehow related to Venezuelan President Cipriano Castro. 

Credit: Public Domain

The theories don’t just stop with this birthplace, Castro has been linked to being related to Venezuelan President Cipriano Castro. He has both claimed and denied being related to the infamous dictator. It was known that Castro frequently claimed to have been either the nephew or cousin (or even son) of Castro, who had prior family and business connections back in Castro’s home country of Colombia. 

The legacy of Lou Castro might be a bit complicated but he led the way for other Latino ballplayers to break into the big leagues. 

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

While his playing days were short, Castro’s baseball life continued as he became the first Latino to “manage a club in Organized Baseball” after he retired as a player. Castro would eventually die in New York at the age of 64 on Sept. 24, 1941. 

While Castro’s career didn’t immediately lead to a burst of Latin players making their way to the big leagues, it would be another decade before Latino players started to make an impact on the field, he still paved a way for many Latinos to follow. 

Iconic Latin stars like Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants respectively, would rise to fame in the late ’50s. In 2018, the number of Latino MLB players hit 31.9 percent, the highest in 20 years. The number is a testament to the ever-growing popularity of the game in Latin countries and the door that Castro opened back in 1902.  

While his story might not be as well know as other baseball players, Lou Castro does have his place in history. 

Specifically, Latino history. 

READ: This Victory Makes Christian Villanueva The Fifth Mexican Baseball Player In MLB Ever To Hit Three Home Runs In A Single Game

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

Entertainment

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

There’s a new live-action stage version of Disney’s 1997 animated film “Hercules” at the Public Theater in New York City — and Hercules is Black as hell

In 1997, San Francisco Gate’s Peter Sack described the film as, “The great old Greek is turned into a ’90s-style athlete who gets endorsements, sandals named after him and a chance to stand tall among nymphs and muses.”

Sound familiar to you? Lest we not forget this was the same era that Michael Jordan did Space Jam and Shaquille O’Neal did Kazaam. The original animated film took inspiration from major athletes of the time and thus, it inevitably heavily references Black and hood ’90s culture. If you watch it now the sneakers, the gospel music, the humor, it probably seems so obvious. 

One might wonder with all these references to the Black popular culture of the ’90s, why didn’t the creators just make Hercules Black? Well, they finally have.

The story of Hercules.  

While most of us were forced to read and re-read Hercules in secondary school, not everyone may know the story. Hercules is the son of the king and queen of the gods, Zeus and Hera. When a prophecy foretells that he will eventually defeat the god of the underworld, Hades, Hercules is kidnapped as an infant. Unable to kill him, Hades is able to take his immortality away but not his strength. The baby Hercules is raised by a mortal couple. At 18 he figures out his real origins and is determined to become a hero so that he can return to Mount Olympus with the gods.

Meet your new Hercules.

Hercules at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, through The Public Theater’s Public Works Program is based on the 1997 animated film, and has kept Alan Menken’s musical score. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he also created the music for Disney’s Aladdin. Jelani Alladin stars as the demi-god Hercules. Krysta Rodriguez plays his love interest Megara.

The difference between the stage musical and the film is that Disney has finally chosen to embrace their story’s Blackness. Rather than simply coding their narrative as one with allusions to Black culture, they’ve put that Blackness at the forefront and center. That’s what we call growth! Everybody loves Black culture, it’s time we start loving the people who make it. 

Danielle C. Belton of The Root describes the original as having flirted with African-American culture, while this new version embraces a multicultural cast. 

“While the film Hercules only flirted with African-American music and culture—the muses who were the “Greek chorus” throughout the film were patterned after classic, Motown-style Black ‘50s girl groups,” she writes. “This version of ancient Greece and the Greco-Roman gods features quite a few Black, Asian and Latinx people, including Jelani Alladin as the titular teenaged Hercules, and, of course—all five of the doo-wopping muses are…sistas with voices.”

How Hercules gave nods to Black culture. 

Hercules is something of a hood icon. It was the first time many kids probably saw Black women portrayed as the muses and Greek chorus. This gaggle of doo-wopping muses sang the funky, soulful Hercules theme. There were also pivotal aspects of hood culture, some of it is even social commentary. Hercules’s character is parallel to the superstar basketball players of the ’90s, their rabid fans, and endorsement deals. The creators, Ron Clements and John Musker, even referred to Hercules as the Michael Jordan of his time. 

In the movie, we see a young Hercules’ as he rises to fame for being a demi-God with some serious strength. When the hero-worship begins, he snags a sweet endorsement deal — but these aren’t Nike Jordans — they’re fresh to death Hercules sandals called Air-Hercs. When the villain Hades sees that one of his minions is rocking the Hercules sandals his response is simple and iconic: what are those?The phrase has now become a popular meme on Black Twitter going so far as being referenced in the “Black Panther” movieThe hero even has his own version of a Gatorade sponsorship, the drink is called “Herculade.”

A Latinx Megara embraces feminism.

Unlike other Disney women of the era, Megara was never waiting to be saved. She was sarcastic, witty, and pretty unimpressed with Hercules’ attempts to holler at her. Krysa Rodriguez’ Megara puts feminism at the forefront — again we see subtle codes made explicit. 

“In a new song, a pants-clad Meg imagines a world without men, envisioning it as a utopia where she could do as she pleases. A dopey, lovestruck Hercules, seeking to demonstrate his feminist credentials, replies clumsily, ‘My mom’s a woman,’” writes Adrienne Westenfeld for Esquire.

Diversity is always an improvement. We live in a multicultural world, there is never anything wrong with reflecting that in the stories we tell. After all, it’s the stories we tell that teach us who we are and who we will become. For Hercules that is learning the truth about his traumatic past to create a better future — for America, well, it’s no different.