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Latinx Athletes Shine in Professional Sports Worldwide

A look at the accomplishments of four exceptional athletes: Mariana Pajón, a BMX rider, Canelo Álvarez, a middleweight boxer, Carmelo Anthony, an NBA forward, and Kenti Robles, a right back soccer player.


Mariana Pajón

Mariana Pajón, a BMX rider, is arguably the greatest Colombian athlete of all time. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she was selected to be the flag bearer for her country, and went on to win Colombia’s only gold medal of the games. Four years later, in Rio De Janeiro, Pajón shot out of the gate to an early lead and won gold again. She is the only Colombian athlete to ever win two Olympic gold medals. Growing up in Medellín, Pajón said that she used to envision Olympic glory in a different sport. “When I was nine, I used to do gymnastics, not BMX, and I thought that I’d go to the Games as a gymnast, ” said Pajón in an interview with Olympic News. Often referred to as “The Queen of BMX,” she has won 14 UCI BMX World Championships in the Junior and Elite divisions. Most recently, she took the gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru.

Canelo Álvarez

Canelo Álvarez is a Mexican middleweight boxer. Nicknamed “Canelo,” or “cinnamon,” for his red hair, he was born in Guadalajara on July 18, 1990. The youngest of eight children — seven of whom became professional boxers — he started boxing at age 13, and quickly became a star, with a record of 44-2 before he went pro. In his 15 years as a professional boxer, Álvarez has a remarkable record of 53 wins, 2 draws, and a sole loss against the legendary Floyd Mayweather Jr. His fight against Mayweather in 2013 was watched by 22.1 million people, placing it as the fourth most watched fight of all time. He is currently ranked as the top boxer in the world by several publications, including the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Carmelo Anthony

With ten selections to the NBA All-Star Game, 26,466 career points, and three gold medals, Carmelo Anthony is undoubtedly one of the greatest Latinx athletes in history. Anthony, who is half Puerto Rican, grew up in Brooklyn, but moved to Baltimore when he was eight. He was drafted to the Denver Nuggets in 2003 as the third overall pick, later playing for the Knicks, Thunder, Rockets, and now, the Portland Trail Blazers. He began his national team career by finishing at a disappointing third place in the 2004 Olympics, but bounced back to win gold in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Anthony continues to be involved in his paternal grandparents’ home country, first by founding the soccer team Puerto Rico FC in 2015, and then by being heavily involved in relief efforts after Hurricane Maria. “We just wanted to give back, I just felt like something in my heart, in my soul, that I had to do something,” he told ESPN.

Kenti Robles

Kenti Robles is a right back for the Mexico National Team as well as for Real Madrid. She was born in Mexico City, and moved to Spain when she was 12. In Spain, Robles has bounced around from club to club, starting with Espanyol’s youth team, then moving to Barcelona, back to Espanyol, Atletico Madrid, and this year, the newly founded Real Madrid. She featured in the starting eleven in the season opener against her former club Barcelona on October 4, which they lost 4-0. For her country, she has played in 73 games, and was a part of the World Cup Squads in 2011 and 2015, placing 11 and 22, respectively.