While researching Yucatan sports for our website, quite often I run across people asking what there is to do in Yucatan. It brings a smile to my face each time. The list of things to do is unending in Yucatan and you are only limited by yourself.
My first trip to the Yucatan was in March, 1975. My only regret is that I was there for the spring equinox but it had not been discovered, at the time, as being significant in the Mayan culture nor in their architecture. Sad part is that we were at Chichen Itza during those days but I remember not which one. I could have been the great discoverer had I turned my head at the right time and realized the significance.
I returned in August and my then girlfriend’s dear uncle Tio Pepe Machain Esquelante took me to see and meet his friend Miguel Cantu. Miguel Cantu was the WBC Flyweight champion of the world. We visited the gym near the Carta Clara Park and Tio Pepe introduced me to Miguel.
The entire gym was abuzz upon my entrance since I am 6’7”, AND WAS, note was, 240 lbs. After much fun, that I did not understand , but I’m sure it was at my expense, but I knew it had something to do with my size, I was invited to spar with the champ. It immediately smelt of a set up as I was fitted with gloves and pushed to the ring. Against my better inclination I entered the ring. The smile on Miguel’s face said it all. We sparred around and suddenly I was softly hit with about between 25 and 250 punches that I never saw. Intelligently I bolted from the ring and made the most fun out of a potentially ugly situation.
On August 23, 1975, Tio Pepe Machain Esquilante, my future brother in law Alejandro Lopez Machain and I went to the WBC Championship Title Fight of the World and witnessed the defeat of OPBF champion Jiro Takada by 11th round TKO.
Since that time the Parque de Kulkulkan was completed and became the Yucatan sports venue of Merida. The Parque de Kululkan is a very large sports complex situated on the eastern side of Merida along the Circuito Colonias Oriente.
The Kukulkan Stadium, on the Circuito Colonias Oriente is easy to find. The Circuito Colonias, was literally a circular road built around the city to relieve some of the inner city traffic. The city quickly overgrew the road. Eventually, the Anillo Periferico/ Peripheral Ring Road was built and it too is now being over-run by the city on the northern side.
Merida continues to be a great boxing venue! The Poliformo is a world renowned boxing venue.
Gilberto Keb Baas born in Hunucma, Yucatan and fought Omar Nino Romero at the Poliforum Zamna on Nov. 6, 2010 won a majority decision and is the current WBC Light Flyweight Champion
WBC Light Flyweight World Champion Gilberto Keb Baas and his challenger WBC former world champion Jose Antonio ¨Jaguar¨ Aguirre are in training for their match on February 26, 2010 at the Poliforum Zamna in Merida, Yucatan. The event is billed as Prueba de Fuego/ Proof of Fire!
Yucatan Sports: Baseball
The Leones de Yucatan have always been my personal favorite Yucatan sports team. It is not only that they are usually leaders in the Mexican League but it always gives me the opportunity to literally meet future Major League players and those at the twilight of their career.
For example, Fernando Valenzuela was pitcher for the Leones/Lions for years. He married the manager’s daughter, Linda Bajorgues, on December 26, and I was there! I also met Aurelio Rodriguez when he played for the Diablos de Mexico , Or whomever. Wikapedia doesn’t list him as playing for the Diablos but I’m sure that is who he played for.
They introduced the visiting team and introduced Aurelio Rodriguez as manning third base. Third base was our usual spot. Being a Detroit Tigers fan I yelled out his name and he came over to talk with us. Not to get into it but it is well known that the Tiger’s fisherman used to come up to Tom Sellick’s Mother’s house and go salmon fishing.
After spending several minutes visiting with Aurelio the team manager suggested that he get ready for the game. After the game we sat in the dugout and were in the national news talking with my favorite Tiger! My in-laws across Mexico saw us on TV.
Honestly, I don’t remember what year it was. Fernando had pitched for the Leones de Yucatan and for the LA Dodgers. We arrived prior to Christmas and Alex, my brother-in-law informed me that Fernando was marrying Linda Bajorgues, the manager’s daughter.
Way too long of a story, but we went, covered the door to check for credentials, kept the crowd back, handed a bottle of Garci Crispi to Fernando when it looked like he was going to pass out. My big right hand was part of a TV commercial handing Fernando a bottle of mineral water for a while. I never got credit, nor the cost of the pop, nor the deposit!
Oh well! Good memories!
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