10 Most Famous Mexican Athletes
The 10 most famous Mexican athletes represent a cross-section of sports, but hew closely to the triumvirate of soccer, boxing and golf. And, while two of the ten listed were not born in Mexico, they have become Mexican icons due to their ancestry and their own supreme talent, allowing their country to claim them as their own.
- Hugo Sanchez. Born in Mexico City, Sanchez is hailed as the greatest Mexican soccer player of all time. He won five consecutive league titles with Spanish giant Real Madrid, and scored 46 goals playing for the Mexican National team, including three World Cup appearances. Sanchez was famous for his flamboyant playing style, and his habit of somersaulting after scoring a goal. Since his retirement, he's coached the National Team and remains one of the most popular and famous of all Mexican athletes.
- Oscar De La Hoya. Although he was born in Los Angeles, De La Hoya's parents hail from Mexico where boxing ran in the family. Both De La Hoya's father and grandfather were boxers, and De La Hoya himself started boxing at the age of six. After winning an Olympic gold medal in 1992, De La Hoya turned pro and won his first world title in 1995. In 2004, De La Hoya became the first boxer in history to win world titles in six different weight classes, and his model looks and great talent earned him the nickname "Golden Boy." Though some Mexican fans would have preferred a rougher-looking fighter, they embrace him as a national hero to this day.
- Ana Guevara. Born in Sonora, Guevara gained fame as an elite tack-and-field star, earning a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Her standing as one of the few Mexican running stars of international renown made her the pride of her country, and her fame continues as she recently ran for election in Mexico City.
Eduardo Najera. Only the second player born in Mexico to play in the NBA, Najera's gritty, physical style of basketball has made him the pride of Mexicans everywhere, and his commitment to social activism cements his legacy as one of the ten most famous Mexican athletes.
- Fernando Valenzuela. He is a Mexican-born baseball pitcher, who joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981, and became the first rookie pitcher ever to win the Cy Young Award. Rotund and pleasant, Valenzuela became not just the most famous athlete in Mexico, but one of the most famous people in Latin America and is still beloved today for his talent and humility.
- Lee Trevino. The American-born son of Mexican immigrants, Trevino's fluid golf style won him six Major Championships, and his easygoing, humorous manner earned him the respect and adulation of sports fans.
- Julio Cesar Chavez. This Mexican-born boxing legend won six World Titles in three different weight divisions, and was, for years, considered the best fighter in the world. His fierce style of boxing endeared him to Mexican fans , and he is still one of the ten most famous Mexican athletes today. Chavez was recently ranked the 24th greatest boxer in history by ESPN.
- Cuauhtemoc Blanco. One of Mexico's all-time greatest soccer players, Blanco's pinpoint passes and impeccable ball control, as well as his fiery temper and willingness to engage in trash talk with his opponents, make him a controversial and popular sports figure.
- Lorena Ochoa. As the first Mexican-born golfer ever to be ranked number one in the world, Ochoa won two Major Championships and 30 other tournaments before recently retiring. Her foundation builds and runs schools in Guadalajara for impoverished students, and her dedication to improving the lives of those in need, as well as her remarkable success on the golf course, has made her one of the most famous Mexican athletes of all time.
- Marco Antonio Barrera. Barrera won seven world boxing titles in three different weight classes, and his memorable trilogy of fights with fellow Mexican, Eric Morales, are considered three of the best boxing matches in history. Barrera's clean looks earned him the moniker "Baby-faced Assassin," and his punching power and ability to take hits earned him the 43rd spot on ESPN's ranking of the 50 greatest boxers of all time.