Most Influential Latino Athletes in the United States
The amazing growth of the Latin American community in the United States has not only entailed a significant demographic change, but also a transformation in that country’s economic, politic, cultural and sports spheres. Nowadays, we find numerous Latin American athletes that have become stars in the main U.S. professional leagues. Many of them have kept strong relations with their origins and that’s the reason why they support their compatriots in different ways, especially in the hardest times for those communities.
PanamericanWorld proposes an approach to the best moments in the career of six highly-influential Latino athletes in the United States.
SAUL “CANELO” ALVAREZ (MEXICO, BOXING)
This Mexican fighter is probably the most complete Latin American boxer at this moment. His record of 49 wins, 34 KOs and only one defeat (against Floyd Mayweather Jr.) speaks high of this 27-year-old pugilist’s quality, who has won world super welter titles given by three different organizations (WBC, WBA and WBO); moreover, he has been a world middle weight champion of WBC and The Ring. In 2017, “Canelo” easily defeated his compatriot Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and, during what was described as the fight of the year, he had no decision in his duel against Kazakh Gennady Golovkin.
MANU GINOBILI (ARGENTINA, BASKETBALL)
The veteran guard of the San Antonio Spurs can be labeled as the best Latin American basketball player of all time in NBA. He is 40 years old, but that’s not what you see on the court, since he is very active both in offensive and defensive positions. He has won four champion rings with this team.
“He is something else. Whatever he drinks, I want it. There has to be a source of youth somewhere,” the Spurs coach, Gregg Popovich, said about Manu. The Argentinean’s career includes one Olympic title with the national team, in Athens Games back in 2004, bronze medal in Beijing 2008 and silver medal in Indianapolis World Championship, in 2002.
JOSE ALTUVE (VENEZUELA, BASEBALL)
The Venezuelan player was the best Latin American athlete in 2017. Over the past four seasons and for the third time, this “little giant” conquered the batting title in the American League and he played a key role with the Houston Astros to win the World Series. The list of recognitions received by this player is very impressive: MVP of his league, Hank Aaron award to the best batter of the championship and Person of the Year according to Sports Illustrated, along with J.J. Watts from the Texans, for the great support he provided to the victims in Houston after hurricane Harvey.
During six years playing in MLB, Altuve (one of the smallest ball players in the league, with barely 1.68 meters) has an average of .316, with 84 HRs and 403 RBIs.
DIEGO VALERI (ARGENTINA, SOCCER)
The presence of Latin American players in the Major League Soccer (MLS) has significantly grown over the past years. Nowadays, Argentinean Diego Valeri is probably the main representative of the league in that region, thanks to his excellent performance with the Portland Timbers. In 2017, this midfield player was praised as the Most Valuable Player of the event (the third Argentinean to obtain this title, after Christian Gomez and Guillermo Barros Schelotto), by scoring 21 goals and delivering 11 assistances, so he became the second soccer player in the history of MLS with 20 or more goals and 10 or more assistances in the same season. Moreover, Valeri wrote his name in the event’s record book by scoring goals in nine games in a raw, July 29 – September 24.
AL HORFORD (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, BASKETBALL)
Horford has become one of the most dominant pivots in NBA and he is presently described as the most outstanding Latin American player in that league. He began to stand out since he was in college, by winning two national titles with the Florida Gators and, in 2007, the Atlanta Hawks took him as the first choice in the draft. He played for nine years with that team and his best moment came in the 2014-15 season, when the Hawks made it to the Conference Final, first time in their history, but they lost against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2016, Horford signed a 113 million dollar contract with the Boston Celtics. He leads this franchise and, in his first year, he once again played in the Conference Final, where was defeated by LeBron James’ Cavs.
In his 10 NBA seasons, Horford’s average is 14.3 points per game and he gets 8.7 rebounds in each game. With the Dominican national team, the title won in the 2012 Centrobasket, held in Puerto Rico, has been his best result.
CARLOS CORREA (PUERTO RICO, BASEBALL)
Correa is only 23 years old, but he already stands out as one of the biggest sports icons of Puerto Rico, not only because of his great sports performance with the Houston Astros, but also for his constant support to the island where he was born. Correa made his debut in 2015 and he was given the Best Rookie of the American League award that very year. His batting power is impressive, but the Puerto Rican player is also good at defending, so he can be described as one of the most complete players in MLB. In 2017, Correa was one of the leaders in the Astros’ win against Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, the first title conquered by the franchise. In three MLB seasons, Correa’s average is .288, with 66 HRs and 248 RBIs.
The Puerto Rican star has not forgotten his origins and he provides support to low-income communities on his mother island. Last year, he donated beds that benefited 200 children and he later joined Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran and Enrique “Kike” Hernandez in a joint effort to raise money for victims in Puerto Rico after devastating hurricane Maria.