Sat Oct 24 01:15pm EDT
Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have long been a huge factor in combat sports, mainly boxing in the middle and lower weight classes. The trickle over to mixed martial arts has slowly developed with fighters like Roger Huerta, Efrain Escudero, Diego Sanchez and tonight's UFC 104 co-main event fighter, Cain Velasquez.
All four of those guys proudly proclaim that they have Mexican roots. It's no different than recent boxing stars like Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, yet Velasquez strikes a chord with some with his visual statement of pride. Velasquez has "Brown Pride" emblazoned across his chest. The Las Vegas Review-Journal did a piece on Velasquez where he talked about the roots for the tattoo:
"I did it (as a tribute to) my dad and all he did to get over here. He gave me something to look up to when I was little," Velasquez said. "I'm proud of my roots and where I come from. We're hard workers. I love that. I love everything about my culture."
Velasquez said his father crossed the border illegally and was deported several times before finally settling in Salinas, Calif., and starting a family.
The illegal crossing mention brings out the crazies on the internet. Here is one of the many anti-Hispanic messages posted on the LVRJ comment page, from something called la grande lumiere:
Velasquez looks up tp this father, an illegal immigrant. I can understand a son revering his father. It is a nice touch. If his father had not immigrated illegally, then Cain would not have had the advantages, such as attending college (All American at Arizona State)and being groomed for his athletic career. No, he would be sitting in the dirt in Mexico just another Mexican in a dirt poor country.
Don't you think he owes some pride and patriotism to the United States of America? I do. Until he does admit some fondness for this country, his efforts will fall on deaf ears. Who cares about an ethnic person who shows no gratitude to America?
Has Velasquez consistently disrespected his U.S. roots, or is this another jackass judging the kid's character based on a couple of comments in a story and a tattoo? Who cares? No one would have an issue with Phil Baroni (Italian-American) or Marcus Davis (Irish-American) if they had some pro-ethnic tattoo, so what's the problem with Velasquez? Clearly, the complaints come from folks with a deeper-seeded hate.
Dana White won't say it outright, but Velasquez's tattoo and cultural pride could prove to be big business for the UFC:
"The one key thing about Cain Velasquez in that (Mexican) market is they've never had a heavyweight champion in anything. So if this guy can win the heavyweight championship, it would be big."
The promotion launched a huge television deal in Mexico earlier this year, airing pay-per-views for free which will reach an upwards of 60-70 million people. It can only help if Velasquez moves closer to a title shot against Brock Lesnar, if he can take out Ben Rothwell tonight.
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