From Roberto Clemente to Caterina Ibarguen, Afro-Latino athletes of various ethnic backgrounds and disciplines have left an indelible mark on the sports world.

Some of these legends may not be familiar to all American fans, but they nonetheless serve as beacons for those navigating the complex waters of identity, whether in the United States (where a quarter of Latinos identify themselves as having African roots), elsewhere in the Americas, or in the Caribbean.

1 Connected

As ESPN Deportes prepares to broadcast its first Afro-Latinos Town Hall (Somos Afro-Latinos, 7pm ET Thursday), we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Afro-Latinos across the spectrum. The criteria were very simple – pick 10 African or Latino athletes whose contributions are too important to ignore. Important warning : Brazilians who do not normally identify as Hispanic are excluded.

But the end result is impressive. Among the selected athletes

  • A Cuban sprinter who overcame a terrible accident to win every conceivable prize except Olympic gold.
  • The Peruvian attacking midfielder deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Pele.
  • A prolific Dominican who moved to New York as a teenager and continues to add to his all-time guest list.
  • Hall of Fame boxer and world champion in three weight classes, originally from Puerto Rico, who defeated America’s Golden Boy in his prime.

Like the Latino Face of Baseball project last summer as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Clemente is a popular player here. The goal now is to highlight the accomplishments of those who may not have been popular in the United States, but who still made significant contributions to their sport and their country.

Roberto Clemente

Focus on sports/images from Getty

Sports: Baseball
Country of origin : Puerto Rico

Roberto Clemente fed off what he preached. This is perhaps the best example: If you have the opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t do it, you are wasting your time on earth, he said. Clemente died on New Year’s Eve 1972 when the plane he was in on a rescue mission for earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed into the water. Major League Baseball’s highest humanitarian award, given to the player whose off-field performance best embodies the spirit of Clemente, bears his name. On the field, Clemente was just as dynamic. He was the first Spanish-speaking player to score 3,000 hits in his career. The two-time World Series champion finished his career with a 0.317 batting average, and his 0.328 batting average in the 1960s was by far the best in an era of dominant pitchers. Clemente has won 12 Golden Gloves and has been an All-Star 15 times. With his powerful and precise right arm, he led the major outfield helpers for six seasons and collected 266 in his career – the most for an outfielder in the last 80 years. Yet there was always more than size on Clemente’s field. He was fully aware of his influence as a black and Puerto Rican public figure who never missed an opportunity to denounce racism and discrimination.

Teófilo Cubillas


Sports: Football
Country of origin : Peru

It was at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico that the great Pele announced that he had found someone to whom he would pass the torch of being the greatest footballer of all time. Don’t worry about it. I have found my successor and that is Teofilo Cubillas, Pelé said. At the age of 21, Cubillas scored five goals in four games at the World Cup in Peru and was named the best young player of the tournament, making him, in the words of Pele, a legendary player for his country. A midfielder ahead of his time, it didn’t take long for Kubillas to make a name for himself in Europe. He was briefly with Swiss club Basel, but then went to Porto, whose fans consider him an idol. He won the Bronze Boat in Mexico in 1970 and the Silver Boat in Argentina eight years later, both of which took Peru to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. He also led Peru to the Copa America in 1975 and 1987. Cubillas further consolidated his place in the hearts of Peruvians when he retired to join the rebuilt Alianza Lima after most of the team members were killed in a plane crash in 1987.

Catherine Ibarguen

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Sports: Track and Field
Country of origin : Colombia

With his ubiquitous smile, Ibarguen changed the face of Colombian sports by becoming one of the greatest triple jumpers of all time. She made the sixth longest jump at 15.31 meters in 2014 and won Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016. She is also a five-time World Cup medalist and two-time Pan American Games winner. Ibarguen’s run, including her dominant performances in the Diamond League triple jump and long jump, earned her the title of 2018 IAAF Female Athlete of the Year.

Micah Lopez

Photo Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sports: Greco-Roman wrestling
Country of origin : Cuba

Few can claim to be the best in their sport. Cuban Lopez is an Olympic champion who does not fit into this category. The 38-year-old wrestler came out of retirement to win his fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Tokyo Games. With this achievement, he would surpass Russian wrestler Alexander Karelin (three times gold, one time silver) on the GOAT list. Lopez’s biggest problems might come from Lopez himself, who is battling his injuries and watching his weight. Despite his age, he is considered the favorite to win his fourth gold medal in Tokyo. In addition to his Olympic record, Lopez also has five World Championships, three World Cups and five Pan American titles to his name.

Mireya Luis

AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera

Sports: Volleyball
Country of origin : Cuba

The volleyball legend brought together in his 6-foot-2 body many of the qualities of the world’s best athletes. His jumping ability would easily reach a standard NBA height of 10 feet. Louis was relentless on the court, perhaps the best volleyball player of all time. She led Cuba to second place at the 1986 Women’s Volleyball World Championships in Prague, just 18 days after giving birth to her only daughter. Over the next decade, Luis led one of the most dominant volleyball dynasties of all time. Between Barcelona 1992 and Sydney 2000, Cuba won all Olympic gold medals and all gold medals at the World Championships.

Minnie Minoso

AP Photo/Harry Hall

Sports: Baseball
Country of origin : Cuba

Cuban opened the door for Afro-Latinos when he started with the Cleveland Indians in 1949 – two years after Jackie Robinson broke down the racial barriers in baseball. But it wasn’t until Minoso was traded to the Chicago White Sox that he got regular playing time and became a legend in the Windy City. He struck out eight times over 0.300, threw over 100 four times and finished his career, which spanned five decades, with a 0.298 average and 1.023 RBIs. Despite his numbers and longevity – Minoso last appeared in 1980 at the age of 54 – he was not elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Sports: Baseball
Country of origin : Dominican Republic

Pujols, who was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up partly in New York and Missouri, played impressive baseball season after season from 2001 to 2011 – a feat that places him in the ranks of history’s greats. In the first 11 seasons of his career, Pujols put up a .328/.420/.617/1.037 line and an OPS+ of 170. Louis Cardinals on two championships, with 445 home runs and an average of 121 RBIs. His achievements include Rookie of the Year honors in 2001, one baseball title, six Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves and three MVPs (he finished runner-up four more times). Injuries have slowed Machine down a bit since he joined the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. However, they didn’t stop him from hitting Hall of Fame numbers: 3,236 hits, 669 doubles, 662 home runs, 2,100 RBIs, 1,843 runs scored and 100.7 WARs. Ultimately, Pujols will have the qualifications to be considered not only the greatest Latin American baseball player of all time, but one of the best, regardless of his background.

Ana Fidelia Quirot

Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images

Sports: Track and Field
Country of origin : Cuba

Quiro, whose specialty was the 800 meters, is an icon throughout Latin America. She was the first Latino athlete to be named IAAF Female Athlete of the Year in 1989. She was in the prime of her life when she had an accident at home in 1993 when she was seven months pregnant and suffered third-degree burns to her chest, face and hands. As a result, her baby was born prematurely and did not survive. But despite the tragedy, Quiro continued on his way. Nine months and 21 surgeries later, his silver medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games still gives fans goosebumps. Although he often returned to the operating table, Quirot won gold at the 1995 and 1997 World Championships. She also won silver at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. His personal best of 1:54.44 in the 800 remains the Pan American standard.

Felix Sanchez

ROMEO GACAD/AFP via Getty Images

Sports: Track and Field
Country of origin : United States

The man of many nicknames, Super Felix, who was born in New York to Dominican parents and raised in California, had one of the most consistent 12-year races of any Olympic athlete. After failing in the semifinals of the 400m hurdles in Sydney in 2000, he came to Athens four years later and scored 43 consecutive victories, including the 2001 and 2003 World Championships, on his way to the Dominican Republic, where he won his first Olympic gold medal. He failed to qualify for Beijing 2008 and seems to have put his best years behind him. Sanchez came to London in 2012 with low expectations, but still managed an emotional victory by becoming the first non-US Olympian to win two gold medals in the 400 hurdles and, at 34, the oldest gold medalist in Games history.

Felix Tito Trinidad

John Gurzinski/AFP/Getty Images

Sports: Box
Country of origin : Puerto Rico

He is considered one of the best punches of all time in his class. Trinidad won the welterweight, super middleweight and super middleweight belts. Due to his differences with the Puerto Rican Boxing Federation, Tito never had the chance to fight for Olympic glory at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. However, he beat three Olympic champions, Pernell Whitaker, Oscar de la Hoya and David Reed, in one year of his professional career. Trinidad also has 15 welterweight title defenses to his name at 42-3, including 35 eliminations. Trinidad’s victories on the silver screen are a source of pride and joy in Puerto Rico, where he remains a beloved character.

Compiled by Hiram Martinez and Damian L. Delgado Averhoff.

You May Also Like

Buster Olney’s top 10s for 2021: Ranking MLB’s best outfielders

Fingers crossed that the 2021 MLB season will begin on time —…

Screech’s best Saved By The Bell moments as Dustin Diamond dies at 44

Dustin Diamond passed away at the age of 44 (Photo: Getty/NBC). The…

What needs to happen for Duke men’s basketball to make the NCAA tournament?

8:30 P.M. (EASTERN TIME) John Gasawayespin Insider Close ESPN Insider sponsor of…

Marvel Fans Are Not Happy About Black Widow Being Delayed Again

On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that the Marvel Black Widow could…