11 Remarkable Accomplishments by Latinos in Sports
Sports have a way of bringing people together from all backgrounds. But this wasn’t always the case, especially for minorities who have been fighting for a seat at the table since the late 1800s. Thanks to trailblazers like Esteban Bellan and Judd Castro who led the way for Latino players in U.S. sports, Latino players represent upwards of 28% in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, representation of Latinos across other sports remains staggeringly low and although Latinos still remain a minority within professional athletics, their achievements are nothing from ordinary.
The Best Female Athlete of 2018
“I am struggling to stand up because my legs are shaking so much” were Caterine ibarguen’s words when she was named the World Female Athlete of the year by the IAFF. Colombian born, Caterine has won two Olympic Medals and multiple world championships on triple jump, and shows no signs of stopping.
Credit: Instagram @llano7dias
Catherine’s success is a combination of her 3.6ft long legs, her slim body, the concentration she puts on every of her jumps (in which she rarely commits faults) , the speed she is able to achieve, and her arm technique. The best jump she has achieved was in Monaco, where her legs took her 50.22 ft long. Can’t wait to see more of her!
The First Latino Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame
Before Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker became the first Latino inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he led an astonishing personal and professional career. Walker ranks among the best players of all time with 15 All-Star games and two World Series Championships with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He received the National League MVP award in 1966 followed by the World Series MVP in 1971. During the off-season, Clemente participated in charity work in Latin America and the Caribbean. The baseball legend died at a young age in a plane crash while he was delivering earthquake aid to Nicaragua. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame following his tragic death in 1973.
Laurie Hernandez Steals Our Hearts and Wins Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics
One of the youngest gymnasts to earn a spot on a U.S. Olympic team, sixteen-year-old Laurie Hernandez became an American sweetheart during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero. Not only was she part of the gold-medal winning team better known as the “Final Five”, she also was a silver-winning medalist on the balance beam.
Hernandez stayed in the spotlight when she competed on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars where she was the show’s youngest winner. After taking time off after the summer Olympics, Hernandez is ready to start competing again and plans on debuting her comeback in 2019.
Anthony Robles with Three NCAA All-American Wrestling Championships and Two ESPY Awards
Despite being born with only one leg, Anthony Robles has overcome various obstacles to become a legend in the wrestling world. Robles finished as a 3-time All-American and the 2011 NCAA National Champion while wrestling for Arizona State University.
Robles continued on to win two ESPY awards in 2011; one for the best male athlete with a disability and the award for perseverance. Although his days on the mat are behind him, he continues to inspire others as a motivational speaker, wrestling analyst for ESPN and the Pac-12 Network, author, and a Nike Athlete.
Holding the Title of #1 Female Golfer from 2007-2010
Mexican professional golfer Lorena Ochoa Reyes, played on the U.S.-based LPGA tour from 2003-2010 where she was ranked the #1 female golfer from 2007-2010. Ochoa is considered the best Latin American female golfer of all time and her legacy became official when she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017.
Her achievements don’t stop there and in 2008 she became the host of a new annual LPGA event, the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Proceeds from this tournament held at her original home course, Guadalajara Country Club, support the Lorena Ochoa Foundation that operates a primary school in Guadalajara for underprivileged students.
First Latino to Own a Major Sports Team in the United States
Arturo “Arte” Moreno became the first Latino to own a major sports team in the U.S. when he purchased the Anaheim Angels in 2003. Since then, he’s signed on several premium players, seen three consecutive winning seasons for the club from 2007-2009, and ushered the team to 6 American League Western Division wins since 2004. Now, Moreno has his eyes set on winning a World Series with the Anaheim Angels.
His legacy doesn’t stop with baseball, Moreno is a professional businessman putting his marketing degree to good use as the Chief Executive Officer of the company Outdoor Systems. The Moreno family are also philanthropists and with the Moreno Family Fund, they help at-risk youth find stability and the resources they need to succeed in life.
Credit: Instagram @dj_zack_morse
Amy Rodriguez with Two Gold Soccer Olympic Medals and a World Cup Title
Amy Rodriguez has unarguably left her mark on the sport of soccer. With an Olympic gold medal in 2008 and 2012 and a World Cup title in 2015, she has overcome major injuries and effortlessly juggled motherhood all while scoring some of the most important goals in U.S. Women’s National Soccer history.
After taking a year off to recover from a torn ACL, Rodriguez took the field once again this year playing for the Utah Royals FC in the National Women’s Soccer League as a forward. Rodriguez was unsure if she would return the same player she was before her injury, but thanks to her persistence and dedication, she has provided a solid performance for the team.
Colombian Football Player Becomes Head Coach of the Houston Dynamo
Retired Colombian football defender Wilmer Cabrera became the first Latin American head coach of a U.S. national team when he was hired by the Major League Soccer Houston Dynamo. In Cabrera’s first year, he took the Dynamo from last place in the division to the conference final in 2017.
Don’t take our word for it, Cabrera was honored by Sports Illustrated as one of the 30 most influential Hispanics in sports in 2017. Cabrera and his Dynamo players are giving it their all this year and there is no telling where his career might take him.
Rebecca Lobo Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame
As a former women’s basketball player in the WNBA, Rebecca Lobo officially went down in history when she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2010. Lobo’s achievements started early when she became the youngest member of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team to win a gold medal in 1996.
Lobo completed a successful and inspiring seven-year WNBA career as a center with the New York Liberty, Houston Comets, and Connecticut Sun. Lobo retired in 2003 and joined ESPN as a WNBA and women’s college basketball reporter and color analyst.
Juan Manuel Fangio With Five World Titles on the Speedway
Juan Manuel Fangio, better known as El Chueco (“the bowlegged one”) or El Maestro (“the master”), was a leading figure in the sports formative years. The Formula One “Godfather” won five championships between 1951 and 1957 with four different teams (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Maserati).
Winning 24 of the 51 Grands Prix he competed in, Fangio was a leader of the sport during a time where peril was inevitable. Regardless of several major accidents and close incidents, Fangio still holds the highest winning percentage in Formula One.
The First and Only Swimmer to Represent the United States in Five Olympic Games
Five-time Olympic swimmer and 12-time medalist Dara Torres is the first and only swimmer to compete in five Olympics. Age ain’t nothing but a number for Torres who became the oldest swimmer to ever compete in the Olympic games at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
Although she no longer competes, Torres still holds the U.S. record for the 50m freestyle. She continues to be a role model for others as a top-selling author, motivational speaker, model, and TV personality.
Emanuel Ginobili With Four NBA Titles and One Olympic Title
Emanuel Ginobili, better known as Manu to his fans, is an Argentine retired professional basketball player. His 23-season professional career began with seven seasons in Argentina and Europe. He continued his impressive career with the San Antonio Spurs where he won four NBA championships and was named an All-Star in 2005 and 2011.
With his recent retirement from the sport, he’s still only one of two basketball players to receive a EuroLeague title, an NBA Championship, and an Olympic Gold Medal. He plans on staying close to the team and the franchise and contributing to the Spurs in anyway that he can.