From Fernando Valenzuela to Manu Ginóbili, and a long and wide list in between, there has always been a strong presence of Latinos in sports.
If we were to write a historic Top 10 of Latinos in sports, it would definitely be a huge undertaking and results, no matter what they were, would be extremely controversial and contentious.
How could we choose between Maradona and Pelé? Or between Julio César Chávez and Roberto “Mano de Piedra” Durán? So, let’s avoid getting in trouble of historical dimensions, and let’s get into simpler present-day controversy.
With that in mind, here is The Latin Way’s current Top 10 Latinos in Sports Worldwide:
1. Lionel Messi
The top place is indisputable. What Messi has achieved over the span of the last two decades at Barcelona F.C. has no parallel in club football anywhere in history (at the national level is another story).
According to Forbes, Messi earned $127 million in salary and endorsements just in 2019! In the 718 matches he’s played for Barça he has scored 627 goals and won 33 trophies, including 4 Champions League and 10 La Liga titles. Individually, Messi has been awarded six Ballon d’Or to the best football player in the world, a record.
If we were to do a historical Top 10 of Latinos in sports, it’s very probable that Messi would also be the number one. But that’s a discussion for another day.
The Brazilian football star was supposed to be the heir to the great lineage of Brazilian footballers. Even though his transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain is still the most expensive ever ($263 million) and has a contract worth $350 million, things haven’t gone as planned for the Brazilian star.
His plan to leave Barça to move away from Messi’s shadow and create his own history in Paris has failed so badly that talks about returning to Barcelona have been going on for months. He’s lost the national captaincy after hitting a fan in the stands, and his parties are more legendary than his football achievements. Still, Neymar has over 200 million followers on social media, the second-most among athletes (Ronaldo is #1), which in our times means as much as winning trophies.
3. Albert Pujols
The Dominican designated hitter of the Los Angeles Angels is a living legend in Major League Baseball. A three-time National League MVP, 10-time All-Star and 2-time World Series champion, Pujols is the personification of the ‘American Dream’ in sports. He is also President of the Pujols Family Foundation that works to promote awareness about Down syndrome and improve the lives of impoverished people in the Dominican Republic.
4. Saúl “Canelo” Alvarez
Canelo is the biggest name in boxing right now and is considered as the world’s best active boxer ‘pound for pound’. He’s been champion in four different divisions and has a record of 53 wins, 1 loss, and 2 draws.
5. Carmelo Anthony
The basketball superstar of Puerto Rican descent is a 10-times NBA All-Star and 6-times All-NBA Team. His NBA career has always been filled with huge expectations and somehow mixed results. However, he’s a winner of 3 Olympic gold medals and 1 bronze medal.
6. Ronda Rousey
Rousey was the first American ever to win an Olympic medal in Judo and went on to build a successful career in MMA first and now in WWE. She also has Venezuelan ancestry.
7. James Rodríguez
A living legend in Colombia, James career has been meteoric as he is somehow just 28-years-old. Designated by Colombians as the successor to the famous “Pibe” Valderrama, James last two teams, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, are both top five clubs in the world. That should settle any argument.
8. Gabiñe Muguruza
The Caracas-born tennis player is a former world number 1, and winner of two Grand Slam titles. She is also ranked 18th in all-time earnings.
9. Raúl Jiménez
The best Mexican football player right now is not named Carlos Vela or Chicharito Hernández, but Raúl Jiménez, who has been singled out as Zidane’s choice for a summer transfer to Real Madrid.
10. Tony Romo
Tony Romo is the only non-active athlete of this list, but his high profile as a former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and his current position as TV’s highest-paid broadcaster ever, got him a place in the Top 10 Latinos in Sports Worldwide.
This is our Top 10, for better or worse, tell us yours in our social media accounts and join the conversation.