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At mitú we celebrate Latinx representation every single day. Together with AT&T we’re shining a spotlight on everyday Latinx heroes and the incredible achievements of our community.

Latin American and U.S. Latino athletes have given the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world countless moments of joy, pride, and hope. Latin American sportswomen and men usually come from disadvantaged backgrounds so their stories of pride and success inspire us even more. It would be almost impossible to enumerate all the triumphs achieved by Latin American athletes, but we are listing the Most Iconic Moments In Sports. Sí se puede!

When Diego Armando Maradona scored the infamous but glorious goal known as “La mano de Dios” (“The hand of God”)
June 22, 1986, Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, in a quarterfinals game against bitter rivals England

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – JUNE 22: Argentina player Diego Maradona outjumps England goalkeeper Peter Shilton to score with his ‘Hand of God’ goal as England defenders Kenny Sansom (top) Gary Stevens (c) and Terry Fenwick look on during the 1986 FIFA World Cup Quarter Final at the Azteca Stadium on June 22, 1986 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Allsport/Getty Images)

This has got to be the single most controversial moment in World Cup history. Argentina was facing England in the quarterfinals and Maradona jumped to hit the ball with his head. But thing is, he actually hit it with his hand and the ball penetrated the net. The English were of course appalled, but this event remains one of the most memorable in the long history of joy and drama of the Argentinian national team. We got to also remember that there was some bad blood between Argentina and England at the time, a product of the Falklands War. 

When Ana Gabriela Guevara excelled in an Olympic event that was uncharted territory for Latina athletes
2004 Olympic Games, Athens, Greece

ATHENS – AUGUST 24: Tonique Williams-Darling of Bahamas celebrates next to Ana Guevara of Mexico as she won gold in the women’s 400 metre final on August 24, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in the Sports Complex in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Stuart Hannagan/Getty Images)

Ana Gabriela Guevara, who is now a very controversial politician, gained notoriety for scoring a silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She competed in 400m, a test that Mexican track athletes don’t generally excel. But she proved that she is one of a kind. 

When Mexican boxing legend Julio César Chávez pulled off a miracle and knocked out Meldrick Taylor in the last few seconds of their championship unification fight
March 17, 1990, Las Vegas, Nevada

17 Sep 1994: Julio Cesar Chavez throws a punch to the face of Meldrick Taylor at Caesar”s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Chavez won the fight with an eighth round technical knockout. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello /Allsport

In a rare encounter, the world’s two best boxers met for a unification fight. Both were unbeaten and Chávez was heralded as a national hero in his native Mexico. The fight was as tough as it gets, with both boxers sustaining enormous amounts of punishment. With 17 seconds left on the clock and behind in the scorecards Julio César connected with a massive right hand. The contest was stopped with two seconds left: a boxing miracle of the highest order.

When Fernando Valenzuela became a baseball hero and an icon of Mexican-American pride and excellence
1981-1986

LOS ANGELES – 1985: Pitcher Fernando Valenzuela #34 of the Los Angeles Dodgers winds up for a pitch during a 1985 MLB season game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Fernando “El Toro” Valenzuela became an icon of Latino sportsmanship after an excellent 1981 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was one of the first Mexicans to break into the mainstream in the United States. He inspired and continues to inspire, millions of paisanos. He was an All-Star in each season of his incredible 1981-1986 run. 

When Gabriela Sabatini demonstrated that Latinas can excel in the tennis court
US Open, 1990, Womens’ Tennis champion!

Aug-Sep 1990: Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina celebrates after her victory in the Womens Singles final against Steffi Graf of Germany during the US Open at Flushing Meadow in New York, USA. Sabatini won the match in straight sets 6-2, 7-6. \ Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart/Allsport

Tennis is a perilous sport for Latin Americans because it is mostly dominated by the United States and Europe. But Gaby Sabatini showed that Latino girls can be ace too! She won the U.S. Open in 1990, defeating the German Stefi Graf. Una dama del deporte blanco en toda la extensión de la palabra.

When Colombian dynamo Nairo Quintana reached the stars on his bike
Since 2012

Colombian Nairo Quintana of Movistar Team celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win stage 18 of the 106th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, from Embrun to Valloire (208 km), France, Thursday 25 July 2019. This year’s Tour de France starts in Brussels and takes place from July 6th to July 28th. BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN (Photo credit should read DAVID STOCKMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas is perhaps the greatest Colombian cyclist of all time. That is a big claim considering the long and glorious history of the sport in Colombia. Quintana is known for his sustained attacks during steep hills: when most of his adversaries struggle, he has his best performance. He was won multiple stages of the Tour de France and the Giro di Italia. 

When Felipe “Tibio” Muñoz swam toward a gold medal and got a whole country celebrating after some pretty traumatizing events
1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City

Spanish swimmer Felipe Munoz after finishing a race of the summer Olympics in Munich, in sep 1972. (Photo credit should read /AFP via Getty Images)

Prior to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexicans had experienced a traumatizing event when the army attacked a group of students and civilians who were protesting at the Tlatelolco Square. The country was split emotionally and politically. But then came “El Tibio” and at least for a brief moment, the country was united behind a young man who swam his way to a gold medal. The memory of his accomplishment is still brought up today when thinking of the greatest sporting moments in Latin American history. 

When Ecuadorian athlete Jefferson Perez won an Olympic gold medal in the Atlanta Olympic Games
Atlanta Olympic Games, 1996

ATLANTA, GA – JULY 26: Ecuador’s Jefferson Perez (C) is helped after finishing the Olympic men’s 20km walk 26 July in Atlanta. Perez won the first track and field medal of the 1996 Olympic Games in a time of 1hr 20.07 to beat Ilya Markov of Russia. (FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) AFP/IOPP/Georges GOBET (Photo credit should read GEORGES GOBET/AFP via Getty Images)

Ecuador doesn’t have a strong Olympic team, and medals have been few and far in between. That is why Jefferson Perez is a standout in the sporting history of this proud South American nation. During the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Perez did the unthinkable. As Rihannon Walker writes in The Undefeated: “Ecuador’s Jefferson Pérez, Russia’s Ilya Markov and Mexico’s Bernardo Segura struggled to find separation from one another as they neared the finish of the 20-kilometer walk at the 1996 Olympics. Then Pérez began to take advantage of having the youngest legs of the trio and powered himself into the lead. As a crowd of 85,000 waited to see who would be the first to appear at Olympic Stadium, Pérez made a dramatic solo entrance and finished in 1 hour, 20 minutes and 7 seconds to become the youngest gold medalist in the 20-km event at 22. His victory also secured Ecuador’s first Olympic medal.” Just wow, a moment to remember forever. 

When Teófilo Stevenson reigned supreme in amateur boxing. Viva Cuba!
1972, 1975, and 1980 Olympic Games in Munich, Montreal, and Moscow

Cuban boxer Teofilo Stevenson (L) hits Bulgarian opponent Pyotr Zaev during an heavyweight bout of the summer Olympic games, 8 Aug 1980, in Moscow. Stevenson won gold. (Photo credit should read GEORGES BENDRIHEM/AFP via Getty Images)

In the 1970s Muhammad Ali was the greatest name in heavyweight boxing, but he was perhaps not the best. Many believe that amateur legend Teofilo Stevenson of Cuba would have beat the great Ali. But, alas, Cuban boxers were not allowed to turn professional and a fight between the two never materialized. Stevenson’s amateur career extended 20 years, from 1969 to 1986. He won a total of three gold medals, un logro extraordinario

When “Las espectaculares morenas del Caribe” Cuban female volleyball team captured the world’s imagination and won three consecutive Olympic gold medals
Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games

3 Aug 1996: Marleny Costa of Cuba smiles after Cuba defeated China for the gold medal in women’s volleyball at the Omni Coliseum at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

This group of amazing Cuban ladies totally dominated volleyball for three Olympic Games, and then won the bronze in their fourth attempt. Puro Cuba! 

When Costa Rican swimmer Claudia Poll surprised everyone and became a national icon
Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games

21 July 1996: Claudia Poll of Costa Rica celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women”s 200m freestyle at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Mandatory Credit: Simon Bruty /Allsport

This amazing woman was born in Nicaragua but later became a Costa Rican citizen. She won a gold medal in the Atlanta Games (a big year for Latino athletes!) and is considered the greatest sports figure in the history of the Central American nation. She also won two bronze medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. A true force of nature.

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READ: 11 Unusual Sports You Can Find In Latin America

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