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It’s Been 14 Years Since The Untimely Death Of Wrestling Icon Eddie Guerrero And His Legacy Is More Relevant Today Than Ever

Today marks 14 years since the untimely passing of Latino wrestling icon Eddie Guerrero. Many fans can remember the exact moment when they heard the news that the 38-year-old wrestler was found unconscious in his hotel room. It was untimely and it came out of nowhere. 

For me, it was the first huge celebrity death I could recall that emotionally affected me. I was just 10 years old at the time but it felt like I lost a family member that I never met. Guerrero was one of the few wrestlers that embraced his background and spoke Spanish in the ring. He turned stereotypical Latino gimmicks like his ‘Lie Cheat & Steal’ persona into his own. More than a decade after his death, his legacy shines brighter than ever and is an icon not only in the world of wrestling but for Latinos. 

Eddie Guerrero passed away on November 13, 2005. It was a day many wrestling fans can remember as an end of an era for a star that left way too early.

To understand the importance of Eddie Guerrero you must start with his humble beginnings as a young wrestler. As part of the legendary Guerrero wrestling family, Eddie followed in the footsteps of his brothers and father and went to Mexico to wrestle. After a few years in the indie wrestling scene, Eddie would make his way through New Japan Pro Wrestling ( NJPW), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), wearing multiple championship belts along the way. 

It was in WWE that Eddie made that big leap to wrestling stardom. He enjoyed success in the company in the early 2000s but that would come to an end when he was arrested for drunk driving on November 9, 2001. The company would release Guerrero just three days later. He would use this as motivation to make an eventual return to WWE, who rehired him a year after his arrest. This second chance was an opportunity for Eddie to not only prove to himself but to fans that he could live up to his name that for years followed him. 

Thanks in part to his unmatched charisma and lovable personality, Eddie quickly became a fan favorite in 2003. Teaming up with his nephew Chavo, they formed the tag team Los Guerreros and became a force in the company. The duo embraced common Latino cliches and produced skits that showcased their unique personalities. Whether it was the “Latino Heat” persona or him coming out to the ring in a shiny low rider, Eddie became a star in just a few years in the company and Latino fans like myself connected to him. Maybe it was that he sounded like us or that he looked like he could have been your uncle. Either way, he was becoming a star right before our eyes.

Eddie reached the pinnacle of his wrestling career on on February 15, 2004 when he defeated Brock Lesnar to become WWE champion. 

Eddie became WWE champion by defeating Brock Lesnar in what would become the signature match of his career. It’s a day that stands alone in the world of wrestling and a moment that you can argue stands up there with other Mexican-American sport achievements. It was significant because of how far Eddie had fallen just a few years earlier and how he was a heavy underdog entering the match. While his title reign would only last a few months, Eddie had become a household name and was revered like no other Latino wrestler was in years. 

Unfortunately, things would change over the next year for Eddie as his role as a main event wrestler changed. In 2005, Eddie become tag team champions with another rising Latino star in Rey Mysterio and even later feud with him. By the end of the year, his dark past would return. Eddie was found unconscious in his hotel room by his nephew Chavo. When paramedics arrived at the scene, Eddie was already declared dead. It would later be known that he had died due to the result of acute heart failure. 

The wrestling world was left with a huge void that many argue is still being felt today. Fans pay tribute every year to the legacy of one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. 

Credit: @el_chiclets / Twitter

At the time of his death, Twitter didn’t exist and the only place where wrestling fans could find out about his passing were blogs. I logged onto WWE.com on that Sunday afternoon to see the words “Eddie Guerrero October 9, 1967 – November 13, 2005.” Like other fans, I couldn’t believe the news that one of the greatest wrestlers in the sport was gone. More importantly, Eddie was one of our own and he represented Latinos every time he took to the ring. That’s why 14 years later the name Eddie is relevant to so many and is celebrated annually. 

Many took to Twitter to pay tribute to Eddie and speak about the impact he had on their lives. One person wrote “I am not who I am without you. 14 years and I still remember you like you never left. To the man that gave me purpose, gave me hope – I can never repay you. Rest peacefully, always.”

I remember Eddie beating Brock Lesnar for the championship belt. One of the happiest moments in my childhood. The day Eddie died, I cried. One thing he always did was represent our heritage and culture. My favorite wrestler of all time. #VivaLaRaza“, another fan wrote.

There is no further proof of the impact that Eddie Guerrero has had on the lives of many people still today. In a day and age where Latino representation is needed more than ever, Eddie represented the best of us. He showed the power of second chances and the ability to resonate with fans who weren’t like him. 

He was and will always be a legend in our eyes. Viva La Raza!

READ: While Some People Are Excited About Ronda Rousey’s First WWE Victory, Others Are Not Impressed

As Andy Ruiz Jr. Gets Set For A Rematch Against Anthony Joshua, He’s Already A Champion For Many Latinos

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As Andy Ruiz Jr. Gets Set For A Rematch Against Anthony Joshua, He’s Already A Champion For Many Latinos

andy_destroyer13 / Instagram

Underdog is a word that gets tossed around quite frequently in the world of sports. That may be because as humans we love the story of the often-counted out, disregarded and overlooked individual coming out on top. David vs Goliath. Rocky vs Apollo Creed. The list goes on.

This past June, Latinos got their own modern-day underdog story in the upset victory of Andy Ruiz Jr. over Anthony Joshua. It was a moment that will live on among the biggest upsets in sports within the past several decades. As the boxing world gets set for the highly anticipated rematch between Ruiz and Joshua, many Latinos have already won before Ruiz has even put on a pair of gloves. 

The-then 268 pound Ruiz knocked out three-belt heavyweight champion Joshua to become the first boxer of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title. But as every underdog story goes, the victory didn’t come easy or expected.

Ruiz wasn’t even supposed to be at the fight until he was called in as a last-minute replacement for Jarrell Miller, who submitted three positive drug tests. Ruiz was dubbed “overweight,” “out of shape,” and a fill-in of what was supposed to be Joshua’s coming out party in his first fight in the United States. Ruiz entered the match as a +1100 underdog with a résumé of victories that took place in small casino venues from Tijuana to Tucson. 

Suddenly, he’d be fighting against one of the most feared boxers in Joshua in one of the most famous arenas in the world, Madison Square Garden in New York City.  

To put it in simplest terms, Ruiz had won the lottery without getting a single cent. Remember how I said humans love underdog stories? Yeah, this had all the makings of an underdog story but the easiest part of the script was already written. The world was just waiting for Ruiz to do his part

Seven rounds of punches later, Ruiz had accomplished what few had ever expected a man of his background, style and size to ever accomplish in a boxing ring. But more importantly, Ruiz became an inspiration to so many Latinos in a time when anti-Latino sentiment seems to be the only thing seen in the headlines. 

Whether it be from the U.S. president, a white-supremacist shooter targeting “Mexicans” in El Paso, Texas and the constant narrative of an “invasion” from the Southern Border. But on June 2, 2019, the world woke up to a headline that didn’t read “Joshua KO’s Ruiz” or “Ruiz Who?”, they read “Ruiz Becomes First Mexican Heavyweight Champion.” 

“It means a lot, especially knowing I’ve worked from 6 years old to get to where I’m at now,” Ruiz told the LA Times after the fight. “But it won’t mean something only to me. Each Mexican has his own dream, and I’ve come to believe as long as we focus, you can accomplish anything you want. So maybe by winning, I can change some minds.”

What has ensued since that legendary June night is a celebratory tour that few Mexican boxers have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. 

Overnight, Ruiz became a folk hero of some sorts to countless of Latinos who embraced the boxer and his underdog story. Ruiz came from humble beginnings, born in Imperial Valley, California and was raised by Mexican immigrant parents. His journey began at the age of six when he started his boxing career and would train long days and nights with his father, Andy Ruiz Sr. He would take his son with him for daily training sessions in Mexicali and would endure 90-minute waits at the border crossing. 

Ruiz was born already counted out and that helped him become the fighter he is today.

Credit: andy_destroyer13 / Instagram

That rugged street mentality was etched in his mind from a young age and still follows him to this day. 

“We know their struggles,”  Jorge Munoz, director of Sparta boxing club where Ruiz would train in his hometown of the  Imperial Valley, told The Guardian. “We know how many times they wanted to give up. And the people in the boxing world, they understand how much you go to tournaments and you sacrifice, sometimes you don’t have food, you come back and you try to raise the money to go somewhere else and all these struggles you go through with one goal that you might never get the chance for.”

What ensued after his victory was a championship tour the likes of which a Mexican boxer had never seen. Ruiz met with the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He made an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” There was even a photoshoot with GQ Mexico. The crowning moment was a hometown parade on June 22 in the Imperial Valley where thousands of fans showed up to cheer the champ. 

“He’s one of us, so this is a big deal,” Reyna Gutierrez, a fan of Ruiz who was at that parade, told the Desert Sun. “People might not understand. He’s representing our community and he’s the first Mexican heavyweight champion. We’re so proud of that.”

Whatever the rematch result may be, it won’t matter to many Latinos. Ruiz has already done more than bring home a title, he’s become an underdog that Latinos can call their own.

The rematch bout is being billed as the “Clash on the Dunes,” as Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) will take on Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia about six months after history was made. One day before the fight, Ruiz already made headlines at the official weigh-in as he tipped the scale coming in at a surprising 283.7 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than in his first fight. 

“I kind of wanted to be a little over what I was last time so I could be stronger and feel actually a little better than in the first fight,” Joshua told Yahoo Sports. “We were [planning to be 268], but they were making us wait before we got to the scales and so I had already ate. Plus, I weighed with all my clothes. That’s one of the reasons why I weighed probably too much

While the extra pounds might be concerning to some, experts and analysts see the match as a tossup. For Ruiz, he likes being counted out. He thrives on it. It’s the only way he knows how to feel entering the boxing ring. 

“I never gave up, after everybody was telling me that I wasn’t gonna do nothing (because of) the way that I look … I kept training, I kept listening to my father, my team (and) my coaches. … When I got knocked down, I got back up like the warrior that I am. … (To) all the kids that have dreams, dream big,” Ruiz said at his hometown parade

Never give up. Get back up. Dream big. 

Yes, those are the words that sound like the description of an underdog. Andy Ruiz knows too well about that label and so do many Latinos. That’s why when that bell rings in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the world will be breathing in their collective breath as the latest chapter in this underdog story is written. 

Latinos wouldn’t have it any other way. 

READ: It’s Been 14 Years Since The Untimely Death Of Wrestling Icon Eddie Guerrero And His Legacy Is More Relevant Today Than Ever

Netflix Doc Profiles The Daily Life Of Rarámuri Ultramarathon Runner Lorena Ramirez

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Netflix Doc Profiles The Daily Life Of Rarámuri Ultramarathon Runner Lorena Ramirez

Netflix

Netflix has just released a short documentary that gives us an insight into the daily life of famous ultramarathon runner Lorena Ramirez, the indigenous woman who wins races wearing traditional dresses and huaraches. “Lorena, la de pies ligeros,” premiered on Netflix on Nov. 20, and we can’t get enough of it. While we are used to admiring Lorena at the finish line, for the first time ever, we get to meet her family, and see what her life is like at home, deep in the Sierra Madre mountains. Lorena is arguably the most famous member of the Rarámuri, a Mexican indigenous group lauded for their incredible long-distance running abilities. Directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo, the 28-minute documentary is complete with panoramic views of the Sierra Madre mountains, interviews with Lorena and her relatives, and spots of Lorena competing in international races with a delicate song in the background in her own tongue, whispering about the light of fireflies.

For all the lights and photographs a race brings Lorena, her home life is like any other traditional Rarámuri.

CREDIT: NETFLIX

The very word rarámuri means “light-footed,” and the Rarámuri have been calling themselves “light-footed” for centuries. The Rarámuri used to populate nearly all of Chihuahua, but many retreated to the high sierras and canyons once the Spanish invaded Mexico in the 16th century. Many were captured and used as slaves, but the Rarámuri fought back. The Spanish executed many leaders of the Rarámuri, but their resistance proved too much for the Spanish and their Jesuit missionaries, who abandoned their posts. 

Today, Lorena lives with her family in the Sierra Madre, and continues to practice indigenous customs, many of which include a lot of walking. “We’re always walking,” Lorena says. “We walk to La Ciénaga in Norogachi for groceries. It’s like three or four hours walking slowly. I’ve never used public transport to go buy groceries.” All that walking has made her one of the most famous ultramarathoners in the world. An ultramarathon is any race that exceeds 26.2 miles.

Lorena’s father, an ultramarathoner, brought her to her first race.

CREDIT: NETFLIX

According to her father, “One day, we realized our feet were good for running, and that we had this talent for running.” “The first time my father took me to Guachochi was to run a seven-mile race. I never thought I’d be a good runner, or that I’d win,” Lorena tells the documentary crew with a chuckle. “But yes, I won,” she says seriously.

“There’s no need for pressure,” her father says about her wins. “She doesn’t have to win every time. Sometimes it’s hard on the feet. It’s very painful.”

While some indigenous customs have made her an elite athlete, we learn that she’s tired of taking care of the animals.

“It was hard for me to go to school. It was a five-hour walk,” her brother says. “The girls were forced to stay home and take care of the animals.” As much as he wishes Lorena and his sisters could go to school, “it wasn’t possible.” So the family sends the boys to school, and the girls stay home to do domestic work. Now, when Lorena’s father asks her if she likes taking care of the goats, she says she’s usually so tired now, passing on the chore to her little sister, Juana.

Sometimes she runs with shorts, but she wears them under her skirt because, as she puts it, “I wouldn’t be Lorena without the skirt.”

CREDIT: NETFLIX

Winning ultramarathons is a source of income for Lorena and her family. “I always push myself to make the goal,” she says in the documentary. “It’s no game. I say to myself ‘Nearly there. It’s not much longer to the finish line.'” As often as her father says she likes to run for fun, Lorena tells us that she takes the races seriously. 

Running shoes just “don’t feel right” to Lorena.

CREDIT: NETFLIX

Lorena prefers her huaraches, what else can she say? As she opens up boxes of brand new top-of-the-line running shoes, she says with a smile, “I don’t think I’ll use them. The people that wear these shoes are always running behind me.” That said, she admits that her huaraches caused her problems during an ultramarathon that was impacted by flash flooding and cold temperatures. After running through several feet of water to the finish line, she tells us that her huaraches stiffened up in the cold and were bothering her. She still won.

“I’ll keep running for as long as I can, for as long as I have the strength,” Lorena says.

READ: This Mexican Woman Ran A 50 Km Race In Sandals And Beat The Odds