Book pays tribute to 34 Bolivian sports legends

This content was published on April 07, 2022 – 12:34

Gina Baldivieso

La Paz, April 7 (EFE).- Former soccer players like Ramiro Blacut, Latin American pioneer at Bayern Munich, or World Cup players Marco Antonio ‘El Diablo’ Etcheverry and Juan Manuel Peña, as well as swimmer Karen Tórrez and athlete Geovana Irusta are among 34 Bolivian sports legends honored in a book.

“Stars & Champions of Bolivia” is the text prepared by, a citizen journalism initiative of the firm Neocom which materialized with the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The book was produced as part of a “rigorous” qualitative survey that included interviews with sports journalists, consultations with bibliographic and hemerographic sources and online surveys to find out what is “the current imagination of people concerning the protagonists of sport”, he told Efe. the director of Neocom, Beatriz Villa-Gómez.

This is how the 34 stars included in the text were chosen, which presents interviews with the protagonists who are still alive, biographies of people who are deceased or of very advanced age, historical photographs, relevant data on their careers and even some advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps.

Villa-Gómez stressed the importance of having this information printed as a tangible contribution “so that the habit of reading does not disappear”.

“The book will never disappear and will remain there as a memory, as a testimony, as a contribution to the existing bibliography and to the memory of a country and a people,” he added.

The text was presented on the occasion of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace at a moving event in La Paz attended by some of the laureates, relatives of the deceased and diplomatic representatives of Japan .


One of the legends included in the book is former footballer Ramiro Blacut, a member of the Bolivian team that won the 1963 South American Championship, as the Copa América was then called.

The decision to study in Germany after winning the continental title brought him closer to Bayern Munich, who at the time were seeking promotion to the Bundesliga.

And so it was that Blacut was the first Latin American to wear the Bavarian club jersey and played alongside world stars such as Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier and Gerd Müller.

The former Bolivian coach also recalled in statements to Efe that his career emerged very quickly and that he felt “very good” because he was never interested in money, but that the footballer is seen as a good example for society.

Víctor Agustín ‘El Maestro’ Ugarte, who was the Greens’ top scorer for 60 years; goalkeeper Vicente Arraya, the first Bolivian to play abroad, and basketball player Rodolfo Aliaga, a figure in the sport between the 1950s and 1970s, are other historical figures mentioned in the text.

One of the three women who appear in the book is Julia Iriarte, the greatest octathlete in the country and who shone in continental competitions between the end of the 1930s and the 1940s.


No sporting tribute is complete without the football players who won the historic World Cup qualification in the United States in 1994, which is why the book includes some of these former players such as “El Diablo” Etcheverry, captains Carlos Borja and Milton Melgar, and Erwin’ Platini’ Sanchez.

There is also Juan Manuel Peña, who told Efe he was happy to be recognized and to have the opportunity to be with “all these Bolivian sports legends”.

For his part, Etcheverry said the recognition has “special value” to him and that it’s “nice to be able to receive it in person.”

Other recognized athletes are the mountaineer Bernardo Guarachi, the only Bolivian to have crowned the seven summits of the world, and the winner Geovana Irusta, eight times South American walking champion.

The text also highlights talents who have stood out in recent years, such as the Paraguayan-Bolivian Pablo ‘Pájaro’ Escobar, or the international Marcelo Martins Moreno, historic scorer for the Bolivian team and top scorer in the recent South American qualifiers. Americans for Qatar 2022. .

There’s also tennis player Hugo Dellien, who is currently 93 in the world, racquetball player Conrrado Moscoso and swimmer Karen Tórrez, who told Efe she felt “lucky and grateful” to be included in this compilation.

Tórrez pointed to a phrase mentioned in the act “which says that what is not written is as if it did not exist”, for which he felt that “this book is very important so that the achievements of these 34 Bolivian athletes go down in history”.

The form will be distributed free of charge and also in electronic version via the social networks of Rediez. EFE


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