Five Famous Puerto Rican Athletes

Many of Puerto Rico's sports stars have excelled in Major League Baseball
Many of Puerto Rico’s sports stars have excelled in Major League Baseball

For such a small island, it is incredible how many elite sports stars and athletes Puerto Rico has produced. Whether it is those living there, or from the wider diaspora, Puerto Ricans have represented their homeland at the very top stage of international sports. 

Baseball and boxing have been two of the major arenas of sporting excellence and many of Puerto Rico’s most famous sons and daughters have featured on the best betting sites and the sports pages over the years. Here are five of the very best. 

Roberto Clemente, Baseball 

Roberto Clemente was the first Latin American or Caribbean player ever to be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame and forced a change of the eligibility rules to do so. Clemente won four batting titles as a Pittsburgh Pirate and had his 3,000th base hit with his very last at bat in 1972.

Clemente was almost as well known for his charity work and helped deliver baseball supplies and aid in Latin America in the offseasons. He died in a plane crash in 1972 as he sought to help the people of Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake. The Pirates retired the number 21 in his honor. 

Felix Trinidad, Boxing

 ‘Tito’ Trinidad is routinely referred to as the greatest Puerto Rican boxer of all time and held a number of belts during a career that lasted nearly 20 years. He turned professional at the age of 17 and won his first welterweight world title just three years later, beating Maurice Blocker in two rounds. 

In a long career he defeated the great Oscar De La Hoya as well as moving up weights to fight the likes of Bernard Hopkins. He retired for the final time after losing to Roy Jones Jr. in 2008, with a record of 42 wins from 45 fights. That included going the first 40 fights unbeaten.

Puerto Rican Flag on the beach
any elite athletes have represented Puerto Rico on the world stage

Monica Puig, Tennis 

Monica Puig became the first Puerto Rican in history to win a gold medal at an Olympics when she beat Angelique Kerber in the women’s tennis final in Rio in 2016. She also became only the second ever unseeded player to win an Olympic tennis medal. 

As well as winning medals at numerous Pan American Games and Central American and Caribbean Games, Puig has eight career titles and has competed at majors on a regular basis. 

Carlos Arroyo, Basketball 

The NBA has seen a number of Puerto Rican basketballers over the years, but Carlos Arroyo is probably the most well known. After playing college hoops in Florida, Arroyo returned to play professionally in Puerto Rico in 1996. He was signed by the Toronto Raptors in 2001 and went on to play for six other NBA teams as well as in Turkey, Spain and Israel. 

It was while he was playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv that he won the league championship and was named as the finals MVP. Arroyo was also part of the Puerto Rico national team that defeated the US at the 2004 summer Olympics. After retiring from the game he became a reggaetón star. 

Ivan Rodriguez, Baseball 

Nicknamed Pudge and I-Rod, Ivan Rodriguez is regarded as one of the best ever catchers to play the game and was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility. He is most well known for his two stints with the Texas Rangers, but won a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003. 

As well as winning the World Series and playing for seven Major League Baseball teams, Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star, won 13 Golden Glove Awards and seven Silver Slugger Awards. His number 7 was retired by the Texas Rangers and he was selected as a Puerto Rico shadow representative in 2017.

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