The 30 Most Influential Hispanics in Sports – Sports Illustrated
Hispanics are reshaping sports in America. With Hispanic Heritage Month upon us, SI is honoring the 30 most influential Latinos in sports who aren’t athletes: the coaches, journalists, CEOs and other innovators who shape American sports culture and industry.This list, which is unranked, defines influence by how each person affects the fan experience. These household names don’t just offer a diverse perspective—they enrich the American sports landscape.
Linda G. Alvarado
Occupation: Co-owner, Colorado Rockies
Alvarado is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Alvarado Construction and President of Palo Alto, Inc. Restaurant Company. After making her fortune in the business world, she turned to the sports world. Alvarado became the first Hispanic female co-owner of a major league team, and the first woman ever involved in a formal bid for ownership of a major league baseball team, when she became co-owner of the Rockies. Alvarado was inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003. She has long been a stout advocate for diversity in the work place, especially involving Hispanics. “We advocate for Hispanics and other ethnicities, genders and diverse groups because there is an underutilized talent pool seeking opportunity to create value to the growth and success of the company,” she told Hispanic Executive in 2015.
Occupation: Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations/General Manager, Detroit Tigers
Avila began his coaching career as an assistant at St. Thomas University, his alma mater. He was promoted to head coach and served as the school’s athletic director until 1992, when he joined the Florida Marlins and became the director of Latin American operations. Under Avila’s guidance, the Marlins signed 1997 World Series MVP Liván Hernández, who led Florida to their first title in franchise history. In 1998, Avila was promoted to director of scouting and signed 16-year-old Miguel Cabrera, who would become one of baseball’s best hitters, a year later. He was hired as the assistant general manager and vice president of the Detroit Tigers in 2002 and remained in the role until 2015, when he was promoted to general manager and executive vice president of baseball operations. With the promotion, Avila became the first Cuban-born general manager in baseball history. His son, Alex, currently plays catcher for the Chicago Cubs and was an All-Star for Detroit in 2011.
Occupation: Senior Director of Hispanic Initiatives, ESPN
Hometown: Paterson, NJ
Balta began his reporting career as a producer for NY1 in 1994. Since then, he has worked for Telemundo, NBC, MSNBC, WCBS and most recently, ESPN. Baltais responsible for expanding ESPN Deportes’ coverage and was the creator of the bilingual Max y Marly audio podcast and Nación ESPN. He also served as President for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists from 2012-2014 and is the co-founder of the Latino Multimedia Communicators social media group, which shares, discusses and supports professionals and their products of interest to the Latino community. Balta is a passionate advocate for diversity, and his work constantly highlights the beauty of multiculturalism and Hispanic representation.
Luis Gerardo Bucci
Occupation: Sportscaster, CNN Deportes
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
After specializing in sports journalism at the Universidad Simón Bolívar, Bucci began his professional career in radios in his native Venezuela. He first broke through in television at RCTV, where he was a producer and commentator of the 2004 Olympics. Bucci moved to Miami in 2008 where he worked as a reporter and presenter on the GOL TV network. In 2011, he was hired by CNN as a producer and presenter of CNN Sports, and in 2012 became the main driver of the program and sports segments of Our World, Direct USA and World Panorama. Bucci’s work can be seen and heard across different CNN platforms including podcasts, radio, video and social media.
Occupation: Head Coach, Houston Dynamo
Hometown: Cartagena, Colombia
Throughout an 18-year playing career, Cabrera played for clubs in Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica and the United States. After retiring, he worked in Major League Soccer’s front office as a community development manager working on Hispanic grassroots and youth programs. He earned his coaching license in 2005 and in 2007, was named head coach of the United States men’s national under-17 soccer team, becoming the first Latin American head coach in the U.S. national team system. Cabrera would then become the head coach for MLS clubs Chivas USA and Rio Grande Valley FC Toros before being named the head coach of the Houston Dynamo in 2016.
Occupation: Sports Commentator, NBC Deportes/Telemundo
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Cantor moved from his hometown Buenos Aires to Southern California as a teenager before graduating from the University of Southern California. After college, he became a soccer play-by-play commentator for Univision and Telemundo, where he introduced his signature bellowing of “Gooooool!” after a score. He quickly became so popular in the U.S. that he appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and even appeared in a Volkswagen commercial during the 1998 World Cup. Cantor currently works for NBC Deportes, where he introduced the first-ever U.S. Spanish-language broadcast of the Olympics. In 2004, he received an Emmy for best on-air personality in Spanish at the Sports Emmy Awards.
Cantor also co-founded Fútbol de Primera Radio with his business partner Alejandro Gutman, the largest nationally-syndicated soccer radio network in the United States.Apart from the World Cup, FDP has broadcasted Copa América tournaments, Gold and Confederations Cups. FDP also has a daily sports talk show from Monday through Friday hosted by Cantor.
Oscar De La Hoya
Occupation: Founder,Golden Boy Promotions
Hometown: Montebello, CA
De La Hoya, who is of Mexican descent, competed in boxing from 1992 to 2008, winning ten world titles in six different world classes and finishing with a 39-6 record. De La Hoya has generated over $700 million in pay-per-view income and was the top-rated fighter in the world in 1997 and 1998. Nicknamed “The Golden Boy,” he won a gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and is the first American of Mexican descent to own a national boxing promotional firm. His firm, Golden Boy Enterprises is one of boxing’s most active and respected promoters and holds a 25% interest in the Houston Dynamo MLS team. Throughout his career, De La Hoya has been active in the community. In 2005, Golden Boy Enterprises announced the formation of Golden Boy Partners, a company focused on urban development in Latino communities. In 2008, De La Hoya donated $3.5 million to the De La Hoya Animo Charter High School to help underprivileged youth to education. After losing to Manny Pacquiao in 2008, he decided to retire from boxing.
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fiore is best known as the host of Republica Deportiva, a weekly sports show for Univision, and for anchoring Univision’s FIFA World Cup coverage from 1999 until 2014. He is a two-time Emmy Award winner and is the author of The World Cup: The Ultimate Guide to the Greatest Sports Spectacle in the World. Since 2015, Fiore has worked for Fox Deportes as a Bundesliga commentator and a Germany correspondent, as well as an English-language studio host. A legend among Spanish-speaking sports fans, Fiore is renowned for bringing his contagious energy and passion to the broadcast booth, resulting in a comedic analysis of the game. You will see more of Fiore when the World Cup comes around, as he is a vital member of Fox’s coverage in Russia.
Occupation: Vice President, Heineken’s Tecate and TecateLight
Hometown: Madrid, Spain
Originally from Madrid, Garcia worked at Heineken Spain before taking a break to work for other consumer brands. In 2015, Garcia rejoined Heineken as the Vice President for Tecate beer, named after a city in Baja California, Mexico. The Tecate exec is best known for partnering Heineken with the Champions League, a soccer league that counts more than 4.2 billion fans globally. Garcia was named to Ad Week’s “Most Powerful Women in Sports” in June. She currently lives with her family in Dobbs Ferry, New York.
Occupation: Announcer, Founder of Gonzo Soccer
Hometown: Corpus Christi, TX
Gonzalez was a founding member in 1998 of the Mexican Women’s National team and helped lead the team in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She played for the Mexican National Team for 13 years and was captain from 2003-07. During her career, González played in 83 international games and scored 10 goals. In 2011, she was hired by ESPN as a studio analyst for the 2011 Women’s World Cup and has since become a sideline reporter for Major League Soccer. She has also announced games for NBC Universo and Fox Deportes and, in 2016, was the only woman calling games in the UEFA Champions League.
Gonzalez’s most valuable job title, however, is her role as co-founder and director of Gonzo Soccer, a non-profit organization that teaches soccer, life and leaderships to girls in Hispanic communities. What started as a soccer clinic in the lower west side of Chicago in 2009, the program now helps more than 900 girls worldwide, with academies in the U.S, Mexico and Colombia.
Earlier this year, Gonzalez joined other ex-professionals and The Equal Playing Field (EPF) Initiative and climbed Mount Kilamanjaro to play the highest 90-minute match ever recorded to raise awareness for gender inequality.
Occupation: NFL studio analyst, FOX NFL Kickoff
Hometown: Torrance, CA
Gonzalez, who is of a mixed background, played 17 seasons in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons. “One of the most common questions I get in my lifetime, and Tony gets it too: What are you?” said Gonzalez’s older brother, Chris. “I just say we’re mixed – black, white, Jamaican, Hispanic, Portuguese.” Gonzalez has been selected to 14 Pro Bowls in his career and currently holds the NFL record for total receiving yards by a tight end with 15,127. He also has the second-most receptions by any player all-time with 1325 and was well known for his durability, missing just two games in his career. While playing for the Chiefs, he co-founded All-Pro Science, a sports nutrition company, and starred in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, playing Paul Donovan in his first feature film role. Immediately after retirement, Gonzalez became an analyst on CBS’s NFL pregame show NFL Today. He worked for CBS until the end of the 2016 season before being added to FOX’s pregame show in May.
In 2009, Gonzalez co-authored The All-Pro Diet with Mitzi Dulan, the former nutritionist for the Chiefs, detailing his diet and workout routine. The aim was to provide information and help for others (athletes and non-athletes) to follow the same path.
In his rookie year, Gonzalez joined the Shadow Buddies Foundation, an organization that provides support and knowledge to children with severe illnesses and disabilities. When he moved to Atlanta he continued this program with children’s hospitals in the city.
Dan Le Batard
Occupation: Sportswriter/Television Host, Miami Herald, ESPN
Le Batard, whose parents were exiled from Cuba, is an American sportswriter, radio host and television reporter. He is most known for his radio show The Dan Le Batard show and for hosting Highly Questionable, which airs daily on ESPN. “It’s rare to have a show that embraces heritage,” Erik Rydholm, executive producer at ESPN said of the show, which features Le Batard and his father and targets a Hispanic audience. “It has to have family and that connection with viewers.” Le Batard also frequently serves as a host for Pardon the Interruption and writes for his hometown paper, the Miami Herald. He is lauded for his self-deprecating humor and often writes about controversial topics such as race. His candor has made him one of the most respected journalists in the industry and has led to a devoted fan base.
Occupation: Host/Reporter, Fox Deportes/NFLeros
Hometown: Mexico City
Marín joined Fox Deportes in 2013 as part of Central Fox, the network’s leading sports news program. In 2015, she began covering the NFL and MLB for Fox Deportes En Vivo. Marín began her career covering Mexican Tennis at the newspaper “Impacto” before becoming a host and reporter of La Aficion at Milenio TV. She was also a commentator for Telivisa Deportes Network and Televis Deportes W Radio. On her show NFLeros, Marín often highlights Hispanic athletes and uses social media to interact with the community.
Gerardo “Tata” Martino
Occupation: Head Coach, Atlanta United FC
Hometown: Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina
Martino is an icon in his native Rosario because of his success with local club Newell’s Old Boys. He holds the record of appearances with the team, playing a total of 505 matches in 14 years with the club. He was also selected in a fan’s poll as the best player throughout the club’s history. After retiring from soccer, Martino continued his success as a manager. In 2013, he was chosen as manager of FC Barcelona, but resigned just a year later after a runner-up La Liga finish. In 2015, he led Argentina to the Copa América Final, but resigned in 2016 after losing to Chile in two consecutive finals. Martino currently manages MLS expansion club Atlanta FC, who reached the playoffs in its first season. His presence in the U.S not only elevates the league’s reputation, but due to his passion for youth, local development, Atlanta has a manager who has a vision that can help the city’s multicultural talent.
Occupation: MLB Analyst, ESPN
Hometown: Camarillo, CA
Mendoza was a four-time First Team All-American softball player for the Stanford Cardinals between 1999-2002 and a former member of the US women’s national team between 2004-2010.She won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.On August 24, 2015 she became the first female analyst in the history of Major League Baseball. She is currently a broadcaster for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and analyzed her first MLB post-season series on ESPN radio on Saturday. On her Hispanic heritage, Mendoza told ESPN she felt Latinas needed to “Embrace the fact that you are different.” She often points her source of inspiration to her father, who was a first-generation Mexican-American that taught her to love her Hispanic roots.
Mendoza is a past president of Women Sports Foundation, an organization founded by Billie Jean King in 1974 aimed to advance the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity. During the 2008 Olympics, she was also an athletic ambassador for Team Darfur, which was devoted to raising awareness of humanitarian crises related to War in Darfur.
Occupation: Owner, Los Angeles Angels
Hometown: Tuscon, AZ
Moreno earned his fortune through advertising and was hired by billboard company Outdoor Systems in 1984. After taking Outdoor Systems public in 1996, Moreno sold the company to Infinity Broadcasting for $8 billion. In 2003, he became the first Mexican-American to own a major sports team in the United States when he purchased the Anaheim Angels from the Walt Disney Company. Moreno led the Angels to division titles from 2004-2009 and 2014. In the community, he established the Moreno Family Foundation, which supports non-profit organizations focusing on youth and education as well as athletic programs at the University of Arizona.
Occupation: Major League Soccer, Vice President of Communications
Muñoz developed a passion for soccer while growing up in Miami, leading to her career in sports journalism with The Miami Herald and ESPN The Magazine. She became involved with the MLS in 2002 and has played an important role in establishing relationships with League broadcast partners, including Univision, ESPN and FOX.Muñozis also responsible for the league’s U.S. Hispanic initiatives, including the Sueño MLS reality show and the league’s Spanish-language digital platform, FutbolMLS.com. The strong relationship between Hispanic soccer fans and Major League Soccer is a testament to her work as both an executive and a passionate fútbol fan.
Occupation: Coordinating Producer, ESPN
Hometown: Los Angeles
Sandy Nunez is a Coordinating Producing overseeing all SportsCenter production for ESPN in Los Angeles. SportsCenter production in LA includes SC Coast to Coast with anchors Cari Champion and David Lloyd as well as the late night SportsCenter Los Angeles with Neil Everett and Stan Verrett. Nunez is currently a member of the Los Angeles chapter of Women in Sports and Events (WISE). She also serves on the Board of Managers of Ketchum-Downtown YMCA.Earlier this month, Nunez was named one of “Los Angeles Most Influential Latina Journalists” by the California Chicano News Media Association (CCNMA.)
She is the only Latina who holds her position of coordinating producer at ESPN.
Occupation: International Football Analyst, ESPN
Hometown: San Salvador, El Salvador
Palomo started his broadcasting career in 1999 with Channel 4 TV in San Salvador covering events including the Olympics and the Pan American Games. He joined ESPN in 2000 as a SportsCenter anchor for ESPN in Latin America and served as an anchor for Sportscenter for ESPN Deportes from 2004-06.Palomocurrently covers European soccer as a Spanish commentator and is the host of Fuera de Juego, ESPN Deportes’ highest-rated international program. In July 2012, he was chosen to be the voices for the FIFA video game franchise and has appeared in their Spanish versions since FIFA 13. This role has helped Palomo influence millions of young people who are introduced to the beautiful game.Palomowas also a member of the National Track and Field team of El Salvador and is the country’s record-holder in the javelin throw.
Occupation: Manager, Chicago White Sox
Hometown: Harbor City, CA
After playing in South Gate, California, Renteria was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 20th overall pick in the 1980 Major League Baseball draft. Renteria played five seasons in the Majors and two seasons with the Mexican League’s Jalisco Charros before coaching and managing in the Marlins organization until 2001, and in the San Diego Padres organization until 2013, the same year he managed the Mexico national team in the World Baseball Classic. He was hired to be the manager of the Chicago Cubs for the 2014 season, but was terminated just a year later. Renteria would stay in Chicago, though, serving as a bench coach for the Chicago White Sox before becoming manager in 2017. On his Mexican pride, Renteria told ESPN “I can’t deny who I am. I am Mexican. My parents were both from Mexico. They came here. They gave us an opportunity.” As the only Hispanic manager in Major League Baseball, Renteria’s influence for Latino youth ball players are not taken for granted.
Occupation: MLB Writer/TV Host,ESPN
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Rivera, who was born and raised in San Juan before moving to the United States as a teenager, is a bilingual sportswriter and reporter for ESPN and ESPN Deportes. She started her career as an editorial producer and writer at Major League Baseball and an editor at Univision communications before becoming an ESPN beat writer for the New York Yankees as one of the few Hispanic females in the BBWAA (Baseball Writers’ Association of America). More recently, Rivera has been a guest contributor on Béisbol Esta Noche, Sunday Night Baseball, Outside the Lines and SportsCenter. She is also the cohost of the debate show Nación ESPN and the host of the Max y Marly podcast. On her Hispanic culture, Rivera told ESPN “I have an accent. My first language is Spanish. I try, I am trying to help your culture, but I still have my culture. You have to respect it. I am not going to give up everything that makes me me just because you don’t like it.”
Rivera has done tremendous work for her native Puerto Rico, as the island deals with the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Her campaign has accumulated more than $30,000 and is getting closer to the $50,000 goal. Her invaluable voice throughout the disaster has inspired other names in the sports world to contribute.
Occupation: Head Coach, Carolina Panthers
Hometown: Fort Ord, CA
Rivera, a former linebacker for the Chicago Bears, is the current head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Rivera was selected in the second round of the 1984 NFL draft, becoming the first person of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent to play in the NFL. After retiring in 1992, he worked in Chicago as a TV analyst covering the Bears before becoming the team’s defensive coordinator from 2004-2006. In 2008, Rivera was named defensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers and received his first NFL head coaching gig with the Panthers in 2011. He was named the NFL Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015 and has led the Panthers to three straight division titles and an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Rivera, who is of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003. Rivera is “the ideal image of a [Hispanic] father figure: stern, but fair,” said José Hernández-París, executive director of Charlotte’s Latin American Coalition, adding that Rivera and the Panthers do significant work of reaching out to local Hispanics.
Occupation: MLB Analyst, Fox
Rodriguez, nicknamed “A-Rod,” played 22 seasons in the MLB for the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees and won three AL Most Valuable Player awards, 10 Silver Slugger awards and two Gold Glove awards. He has also hit the most home runs by a player of Hispanic descent with 696, fourth-most in MLB history. However, A-Rod has led a controversial career after incurring criticism from the media for his behavior and use of banned performance-enhancing drugs. After announcing his retirement in 2016, Rodriguez has become a media personality, serving as a broadcaster for Fox Sports 1, a cast member of Shark Tank and a member of the ABC News network.
In 2003, he gave $3.9 million to the University of Miami to renovate its baseball stadium and as a result it was re-named “Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.”
When he came back from suspension in 2015, A-Rod donated $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade, a donation that arrived in good timing with the Yankees’s expansion initiative to serve more children. Rodriguez said of the act, “if it wasn’t for the Boys & Girls Club, I wouldn’t be in the big leagues today.”
Occupation: Sports Editor, Los Angeles Times
Rodriguez began his journalism career shortly after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. He has covered U.S. Sports forEFE, helped launch ESPNDeportes, was an online sports producer at the Arizona Republic and was a sports editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer. Rodriguez joined the LA Times as a sports editor in 2015 after spending a year as deputy editor for mobile innovation at the Washington Post. Throughout his career, Rodriguez has consistently aimed to diversify sports by reporting through multiple languages and using digital tools.
Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Occupation: President, UnivisionDeportes
Hometown: Mexico City
Rodriguez began his business career when he co-founded and became CEO ofGrupoEstadio, which, under his leadership, became the leading partner for DIRECTV to product and distribute the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Since 2012, he has served as the president of UnivisionDeportes, the sports division of Univision Communications Inc. He has grown Univision Deportes Network to be the leading sports destination for Hispanic America and was named one of the “31 Most Powerful People in U.S. Soccer” by FourFourTwo. Rodriguez also received the Cynopsis Sports’ 2015 Navigator Award and has led Univision Deportes to four Sports Emmy Awards for excellence in sports coverage.
Occupation: NFL Analyst, CBS
Hometown: Burlington, WI
Romo, whose grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as a teenager, played quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys from 2004-16. In that time, he made four Pro Bowls, threw for over 34,000 yards and established himself as one of the NFL’s most popular athletes. His 97.1 passer rating is the fourth highest of all time.Romowas active in the Dallas community, hosting a youth football camp and participating in activities with United Way, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. During his playing days, he would often draw large Hispanic crowds to the Cowboys, telling ESPN he “really appreciates the support [The Hispanic Community] gives us.” He announced his retirement in April and was quickly hired by CBS to serve as lead analyst for NFL games. In a short time, he’s established himself as one of the sport’s best broadcasters.
In the Dallas area, Romo has done much work in the community, as he has collaborated with United Way, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In 2012, as a speaker for “Miracle of the Million” Romo pledged $1 million to its “adopt-a-school” program where local churches help troubled schools.
Occupation: Sportswriter, Miami Herald
Salguero, who was born in Havana, Cuba but raised in Miami, has covered South Florida sports since 1982 and the Dolphins and the NFL since 1990. He previously worked as a national reporter for ESPN and is well respected across the NFL and the sports media industry.Salgueroalso serves as a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and is a voter for the Associated Press All-Pro team and its annual awards. He currently reports and writes for the Miami Herald, where his general sports columns garner frequent attention.
Occupation: Writer, The Ringer; Author of The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed
Hometown: San Antonio
Serrano, who is of Mexican descent, began his career as a middle-school science teacher in Houston. After writing for the Near Northwest Banner, Serrano freelanced for the Houston Press in 2007, where he drew national attention for his work on hip-hop and pop culture. He was quickly offered a place at the LA Weekly before writing for ESPN’s Grantland and Bill Simmons’ website, The Ringer, where he currently works. Serrano is best known for his humor and activity on social media, which he frequently uses for charitable causes. In August, Serrano invited Twitter followers to join him in a “F— Hurricane Harvey” round of donations to support Houston relief work; by the end of the night, they had raised more than $130,000. Serrano’s newest book Basketball (and Other Things) will be published in October 2017.
Occupation: Analyst, FoxDeportes
Hometown: Mexico City
Trujillo made his professional soccer debut with UNAM Pumas in 1996. After playing for three teams in Mexico from 1996-2007, he signed with Skoda Xanthi of Greece. In 2009, Trujillo signed for Chivas USA and became captain of the team in just his second season. He retired in 2013 and immediately thrived in a new role as host of the news magazine show Fox Deportes En Vivo alongside John Laguna.
Trujillo is an analyst for both English and Spanish markets, lending his talents to both Fox Deportes and Fox Sports as a voice of Mexican fútbol. This is extremely valuable to many US-born Latino soccer fans, who passionately follow the sport in both languages.
Luis Omar Tapia
Occupation: Reporter, Univision Deportes/Fox Sports
Hometown: Santiago, Chile
Tapia currently reports on MX League matches for Univision Deportes and Champions League matches for Fox Sports. He has also worked at ESPN, commentating on world football.Tapiais of Chilean descent and has strived to give back to his community. He founded the “The 90 Minutes Foundation” in the city of Miami to help low-income families and youth in education and sport. Tapia is best known for his catch phrases and nicknames for players and coaches as well as his classic comment before every football match, “Begin 90 minutes of the most beautiful sport in the world.”