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The Greatest Mexican Athletes of All Time

Pure dominance, overarching national influence, and Mexican pride—these athletes represented Mexico at the highest level.

Cinco De Mayo should just be called "sell Corona day" but if America is going to co-opt Mexican culture for a holiday they don't celebrate in Mexico, we can claim it back. Let's use this Cinco De Mayo to celebrate some of the best Mexican athletes to ever compete. Mexicans take a lot of pride in working hard at what we do, and nobody worked harder than these athletes. 

Adrian Gonzalez

El Titan was one of the most feared bats in MLB. During his prime, he could take you deep, smash a double in the gap, or work a ten-pitch at-bat for a walk. His 162 game average is the stuff dreams are made of. 27 home runs, .287/.358/.485/.843. His 2009 season is drool-worthy. As far as Mexican baseball players, he is the greatest hitter. For that, he belongs on this list easily. He played for the Padres and Dodgers—two teams well-known for their Latino fandom. In his first at-bat as a Dodger, Gonzalez went yard. A-Gon is the coolest nickname ever, by the way. I'm not just saying that because it can also be applied to my name.

Rey Mysterio

I know the WWE isn't a sport in the same way the other ones are but that's not the good reason for Mysterio being on this list. Born Óscar Gutiérrez, Mysterio brought Lucha Libre (Mexican high-flying wrestling) to the American populace. When I was growing up, I was only a lukewarm WWF (now WWE) fan. You can bet your bottom dollar that Shawn Michaels and Rey Mysterio were my two favorites. Watch him go!

Lorena Ochoa

Overall, there are not enough women being represented in sports and we all have to do better at that. Lorena Ochoa is the greatest Mexican golfer of all time. Ochoa was born and raised in Guadalajara (go Chivas) started golfing at age 5 and won her first national event at age seven. A child of that age having the work ethic and drive to win is one in a million. Ochoa maintained for years that she only wanted to compete as long as she was elite, so she retired in 2010. She was the first Mexican golfer to ever be ranked number one in the world, and she held that top rank for 158 consecutive total weeks from April of 2007 to her retirement in May 2010 at the age of 28 years old. That's an LGPA Tour record. She's the Mexican golf GOAT. 

Hugo Sanchez

There are two (arguably three) sports that Mexicans are known for, and soccer is one of them. There are a lot of Mexican soccer players I could have included, but Sanchez is the greatest. Sanchez represented Mexico in three World Cups (1978, 1986, and 1994) but his greatest contributions to the sport were arguably in Spain. He played for Atlético Madrid and then for their rivals Real Madrid from 1981 to 1992 where he racked up 218 goals and won the Pichichi Trophy five times. He was passionate and known for his acrobatic celebrations after scoring a goal. In terms of passion and body of work, nobody was better than Sanchez. Practice your front flips and watch this!

Fernando Valenzuela

My favorite inclusion on this list, Fernando Valenzuela took Major League Baseball and the entire country by storm in 1981 when he first came into the league. "Fernandomania" was huge. This man's posters outsold Farrah Fawcett (look her up kids) and he was the biggest ticket in the country. His rise to prominence morphed the fandom of the Los Angeles Dodgers into what it is today—a prominent Mexican fandom. I don't know if I would even be a baseball fan if Valenzuela didn't do what he did. He won a Rookie of the Year, a Cy Young award, and a World Series in his rookie season. He's the only player to have ever done that. El Toro is a Mexican icon, a Dodgers icon, and a hero.

Julio Cesar Chavez

Another sport Mexicans are known for excelling at is boxing. This is also another sport where the list of accomplished Mexicans could fill an entire article. Pound for pound, the greatest Mexican boxer of all time is Julio Cesar Chavez. He won six world titles in three weight divisions and tallied over 100 professional wins. He holds many records, including the most successful defenses of his world title, with a whopping 27 fights. Perhaps my favorite story about Chavez is he told his mother that he would retire from boxing after he lost his first match. 14 years and 90 fights later, he would finally lose one. By then, I assume his mother was okay with his son's career choice. By the time his career was over, El Gran Campeón Mexicano was one of the greatest to ever wear gloves.

Honorable Mentions Outside The Top

These elite Mexican athletes may not be in the top tier, but they could be. They also represent Mexican excellence. Oscar De La Hoya, Vinny Castilla, Carlos Gracida Liceaga​, Joaquín Capilla Pérez, Manuel Raga Navarro, Paola Michelle Longoria López, Ana Gabriela Guevara Espinoza​, Raúl González Rodríguez, Ana Guevara, Javier Hernandez, Ricardo Lopez, and Eduardo Najera. Just for fun, I'm putting a wild card. Ted Williams. Williams was Mexicano on his mother's side and is the greatest hitter in the history of Major League Baseball. Again, argue with a wall. 

Last Thought

Inevitably, there are names I forgot or didn't include that people will be upset about. That's okay, I am only human. Who did I forget? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @EnFuegoNow or @Ajontheguitar.