The term ‘Hispanic American’ applies to an American whose first language is Spanish. It does not describe ethnicity. Hispanic Americans are the fastest growing minority in America. According to the 1992 census, there are about 22.4 million Hispanic Americans in the US. Hispanics are second only to African Americans, forming the next- to- largest minority in the United States. More than 59% Hispanic Americans originate from Mexico. Compared to African Americans, Hispanic Americans experience less discrimination.
More sections of the Hispanic group have low incomes and less education, when compared with the other demographics within American Society. According to the statistical data analysis of US Department of Commerce, ‘Hispanic Americans are younger, less affluent and less educated.’ In the early 1990s more than 23 % Hispanic Americans lived below the poverty line. It is probably on account of their being younger that they have excelled in many sports.
1. Nancy Lopez
Nancy Marie Lopez was born in Torrance, California on January 6th, 1957. She is a professional golfer and became member of the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) tour in 1977, winning 48 LPGA awards during her LPGA Career. This includes three major championships. Nancy Lopez is considered one of the greatest women golfers of the 70s and 80s. She has been honored countless times. She was inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1987, and she won the LPGA Tour Rookie of the year in 1978. Ms. Lopez was the LPGA Tour Money Winner for 3 years, and the LPGA tour Player of the Year for 4 years.
2. Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico on August 18th of 1934. He died at the young age of 38 on December 31, 1972 during an aircraft crash off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, while en route to deliver aid to the earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He debuted on April 17th,1955 for the Pittsburg Pirates. On March 20, 1973 he was posthumously inducted into the Base Ball Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the First Presidential Citizen’s Medal in 2002. Roberto Clemente was inducted into the United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame on October 26, 2005. On August, 1984 The United States Postal Services issued a commemorative stamp to honor Roberto Clemente. Many parks and other public buildings have been named after him.
3. Oscar de La Hoya
Oscar De La Hoya, nicknamed ‘The Golden Boy’ was born in East Los Angeles on February 4th of 1973. He is an American Professional Boxer of Mexican descent, belonging to a boxing family. He was rated in all the categories including; super featherweight, lightweight, light welterweight, weltwelterweight, welterweight and light middleweight. His boxing record includes a total of 45 fights. Oscar won 39, lost 6, and experienced no draws and zero ‘no decisions’. Out of his 39 wins, 30 were by KO (Knock Out). De La Hoya has won 10 world titles, defeated 17 world champions, and has earned more money than any other boxer in history. De La Hoya is the first Hispanic American to own a national boxing firm- Golden Boy Promotions.
4. Scot Gomez
Scot Gomez was born to Carlos and Dalia in Anchorage, USA on December 23th of 1979.He is an Ice Hockey center and has played for Montreal Canada in the National Hockey League, the New Jersey Devils, and the New York Rangers. Scot’s father, Carlos, took him to a hockey game at the University of Alaska when he was only 5. He liked the game and recalled it fondly by saying,’ It was fun and fast and I wanted to play after it’.
Scot’s family could not afford hockey equipment and when the local Boys and Girls Club handed out free equipment, his father made sure that he played. Scott was often the target of racial slurs and he heard racist comments when he played for the ‘select 16 USA Team’ because he was the only one of Hispanic descent. He played 82 games during his rookie season, 56 during his sophomore season , and set the Devil’s Record for the most consecutive games played at the start of a career.
5. Pancho Gonzales
Ricardo Alonso Gonzales was born to Manuel and Carmen Gonzales in Los Angeles on May 9, 1928. He died in Las Vegas on July 3, 1995. Ricardo was an unparalleled number one tennis player throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. He was a self taught player and he won the United States Championship twice. He is considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of the game. The 1999 Sports Illustrated magazine ranked him 15th in the magazine’s 20 favorite athletes.
6. Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi was born in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 29 th of 1970. He is best known for being the husband of world famous Tennis champion, Steffi Graph. He is considered one of the greatest players in the game’s history. Andre Agassi started playing in 1986 and won more than $2 million in prize money. During his career, he won 850 singles, which included 60 titles, 8 grand slams and an Olympic Gold Medal in Atlanta in 1996.
7. Alberto Salazar
Alberto Salazar was born in Cuba on August 7, 1958.He is the best known marathon runner of the 1980s. Salazar is best known for his repeatedly outstanding performances in the New York City Marathons in the early 1980s. On July 6, 1982 in Stockholm Alberto’s track record was 13:11.93 for 5000m , and 27:25.61for 10,000m (on June26, 1982 in Oslo). He was realistic, truthful ,and inspiring. He said, ‘I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards’.
8. Joe Frazier
Joe Frazier was born in Beaufort; South California on January 12th of 1944. He was the World Heavyweight boxing champion from February 16, 1970 to January 22, 1973.He was succeeded by George Foreman. Joe Frazier is best remembered for his historical 14 round match against Mohammad Ali. The match was known as ‘Thrilla in Manilla’. Mohammad Ali won by KO and became the World’s Heavyweight Boxing Champion. In 1960, Joe Frazier defeated Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Buster Mathis, Eddie Machen, Dough Jones, George Chuvalo and Jimmy Ellis, ultimately becoming the undisputed World Heavyweight Boxing Champion in 1970.
9. Wilt Chamberlain
Wilton Norman ‘Wilt’ Chamberlain was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 21, 1936. He died in Bel Air, California on October 12, 1999 at the age of 63.He was a professional NBA basketball player and played for Philadelphia/ San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Harlem Globetrotters. While playing with Lakers, he was 7 feet 1 inch weighing over 300 pounds. He is the only player in NBA history to score 100 points in a single NBA game. He won Most Valuable Player Award, Rookie of the Year Award. Wilt Chamberlain and was inducted to the ‘Nesmith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978.
10. Sammy Sosa
Sammy Sosa was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic on November 12, 1968. He was a professional baseball right fielder. His career spanned from 1989 to 2007. Sammy played for five Major League Baseball teams. Sammy Sosa is the all time foreign born, home run leader, MLB player. Paralleled only by Hack Wilson, Sammy Sosa is the only player to achieve the milestone of 160 RBI (Runs Batted In) in 2001.Sosa had numerous fans but lost favor of many of them in 2003, when he was caught using a corked bat. In a corked bat, a hole is drilled through the thicker end, filled with sawdust, cork or other lighter material to make the bat lighter. Using a cork bat in Major League Basketball is in violation of Rule 6.06 (d), which reads, ‘ A batter is out for illegal action when: (d) He uses or attempts to use a bat that, in the umpire’s judgment, has been altered or tampered’¦’.
It is not ethnicity that determines one’s value in sports; it is rather one’s performance in the event that tells if the sportsperson is worth a salt. It is challenging to gain fame in sports, but probably more so to retain it. Many famous sports-persons have fallen easy prey to the cheap tactics, addiction, illegal practices and ultimately lost what they earned.