Entertainment

Ron Rivera: The Puerto Rican-Mexican NFL Coach Leading His Team to Historic Highs

Meet Ron Rivera, the head coach of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

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Credit: Streeter Lecka / Getty

Born to a Puerto Rican father and Mexican-American mother, he’s currently the ONLY Latino head coach in the NFL.

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Rivera has guided the Carolina Panthers to an impressive 12-0 record this season.

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Credit: Grant Halverson / Getty

They’ve already clinched a playoff berth. If the Panthers win one more game, they’re guaranteed to lock down the best record in team history.

Players respect Rivera because he’s one of them: Rivera spent eight years playing linebacker for the Chicago Bears.

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Rivera also won a Super Bowl with the Bears in 1985.

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Panthers players also credit Rivera’s calm and cool disposition for helping them get through the sharp ups and downs of an NFL season.

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Credit: Grant Halverson / Getty

Tight end Greg Olsen says Rivera knows how to strike a great balance in the locker room. He told the Charlotte Observer: “I think a lot of coaches are scared to do that so you always see their guard up, trying to prove that they’re in charge. Everyone knows he’s in charge. I think that’s his greatest strength. It’s obvious who the leader is, but he’s also an approachable, everyday, normal guy. And I think guys respond to that.”

Rivera says he learned it from his father, Eugenio, a 32-year veteran of the Armed Forces.
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Credit: USAA / YouTube

“One thing my dad’s always told me about leadership is when all hell’s breaking loose, everyone’s looking at you to see how you’re handling it. If you’re frantic and out of control, they’re going to be frantic and out of control. If you’re calm, cool and collected and doing the right things, they’ll follow you,” said Rivera to the Charlotte Observer.

Rivera says he also draws inspiration from his older brother Mickey, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer earlier this year.

Rivera also says he’s proud to represent Latinos in the NFL.

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Credit: Streeter Lecka / Getty

“I feel very fortunate that so many [Latinos] have embraced us, and have embraced me, for that matter. To be representative of my heritage, I’m thrilled about that,” said Rivera to Fox News Latino.

Rivera has already made history as the first Latino coach to win the AP NFL Coach of the Year Award.

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Credit: Slaven Vlasic / Getty

Rivera won the award in 2013, after guiding the Carolina Panthers to a 12-4 record. Just three years earlier – the season before Rivera was hired – the Panthers posted a dismal 2-14 record.

Now, he’s on a mission to write some more history – but not a perfect 16-0 season. He wants a Super Bowl victory.

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Credit: Cliff McBride / Getty

When asked if he’s hoping to finish with a 16-0 record, Rivera had a clear response: “If you’re talking about 16-0 seasons, you’re not focusing on the details you need to pay attention to.”

UPDATE: Rivera Takes the Panthers to Super Bowl 50.

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Credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty

After 14 straight victories, the Carolina Panthers had their unbeaten streak broken by the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16 of the NFL. Rivera’s squad recovered the following week and went on to win their final game, finishing the regular season with a 15-1 record. In the playoffs, the Panthers dispatched the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals, setting up a showdown with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

“Riverboat Ron” told ESPN there’s still plenty of work to do: “It’s not about getting there. It’s not about being a part of it. It’s about winning it. And that will be our main focus.”

READ: The Son of Mexican Field Workers, Tom Flores Became the First Latino Coach to Win a Super Bowl

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

Entertainment

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

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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.

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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. 

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Activists Interrupt Harvard-Yale Football Game To Protest Climate Change And Cancel Puerto Rico Debt Holdings

Things That Matter

Activists Interrupt Harvard-Yale Football Game To Protest Climate Change And Cancel Puerto Rico Debt Holdings

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The Harvard-Yale football game was delayed during halftime on Saturday after more than 150 students and alumni took to the field to protest against the schools’ endowments from fossil fuel companies and Puerto Rican debt. The scene was captured across social media as videos were shared of students unfurling banners that read “Nobody wins. Yale & Harvard are complicit in climate injustice,” among others signs.

The annual football game between both Ivy League schools was delayed for almost an hour as police demanded over speakers that protesters leave the field. In videos, you can hear protesters chanting “disclose, divest and reinvest,” as more fans from the stands joined protesters on the field. The end result was 42 people being charged with disorderly conduct, protest organizers had initially said that 20 to 30 protesters were arrested.

“Students are tired of Harvard and Yale profiting off of climate destruction and neocolonial investments in Puerto Rico’s debt,” a statement by student group Divest Harvard read. “It’s time for more than lip service and greenwashing from academic leaders. Harvard and Yale must address the climate emergency at the scale and with the urgency it demands. This action is only the beginning.”

The reason behind the protest was to speak up against the schools to divest from fossil fuels and cancel their Puerto Rico debt holdings, among other issues. 

While there was some initial confusion behind the reasoning of students taking the field, the message was clear that there was anger at both Yale and Harvard financial dealings. According to Vox, both of the schools “rely on funds, bonds, and assorted financial instruments to keep their endowments strong”. Many students and alumni are looking at the schools profiting from the ongoing climate crisis and want them to divest their endowments from fossil fuel holdings and to cancel any debt from Puerto Rico.

“Harvard and Yale claim their goal is to create student leaders who can strive toward a more ‘just, fair, and promising world’ by ‘improving the world today and for future generations.’ Yet by continuing to invest in industries that mislead the public, smear academics, and deny reality, Harvard and Yale are complicit in tearing down that future,” the student groups, Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, Fossil Free Yale and Yale Endowment Justice Coalition, said in a statement following Saturday’s protest.

This has been a growing movement on college campuses across the country that has peaked as environmental issues have come to the forefront of various institutions. Back in September, activists celebrated a victory at the University of California system said that it would move away from investing from fossil fuels.

For Harvard senior Caleb Schwartz, who was one of the various protest organizers that were arrested on Saturday, told NPR about the events that unfolded on the field. “That moment, when we saw people running onto the field was just really incredible,” Schwartz said. “I saw organizers around me crying because it was such a beautiful moment.

Yale responded to Saturday’s protest saying that while the school supports freedom of expression, it shouldn’t come at the cost of delaying a sporting event.

Yale released a statement shortly after the game that the school “stands firmly for the right to free expression” but just not as the cost of this football game.

“It is regrettable,” a statement released by Yale read, “that the orchestrated protest came during a time when fellow students were participating in a collegiate career-defining contest and an annual tradition when thousands gather from around the world to enjoy and celebrate the storied traditions of both football programs and universities.”

The protest received support from various politicians who supported the activists’ cause and freedom and expression.

One of those who supported Saturday’s protest was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who tweeted “Activism disrupts the present to change the future.

Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro also took to Twitter to shoutout the activists and said that he was impressed by the students’ efforts. “From the March for Our Lives, to worldwide Climate Strikes, students and young people are leading the charge to protect their futures,” Castro wrote. “I’m inspired by their efforts to hold their universities to a higher standard.”

There is no doubt that this protest has put these issues at the forefront of many people’s minds, especially at other fellow colleges. Don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last sporting event that gets disrupted to send the powerful message of climate change. 

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