What every fan of Mexican sports should know

What aspects of Mexican sports history should avid followers know by heart? ESPN

Mexico's ultimately successful move toward independence from Spain in the early part of the 19th century is tied to the beginnings of the country's sports history. However, many of the disciplines that survive to this day didn't take shape until much later in the century, under the presidency of Porfirio Diaz.

During that period, the Mexican government introduced baseball, cricket, golf, tennis, Basque pelota and cycling. These disciplines offered not only the promise of physical activity and entertainment to Mexican society, but they also attracted migrants eager for an opportunity to participate.

Saturday is Mexican Independence Day, and over the course of 213 years the country's history has been partially written with the pen of notable sporting accomplishments and shortcomings. Even Olympic Games and World Cups -- two gigantic events on a global level -- aren't strangers to Mexican soil.

But what else is essential to the stadiums and arenas of Mexico's history? With this question in mind, and with Hispanic Heritage Month underway in the U.S., ESPN presents nine sports-related questions that those who consider themselves fans of Mexican sports -- wherever they may be -- should know by heart.

What is Mexico's national sport?

Charrería, an equestrian sport much like rodeo that incorporates livestock herding and bull riding. It traces its origins to the states of Hidalgo and Jalisco during the latter part of the 19th century. The festive techniques used to herd livestock are the foundation for the modern version of the sport, in which charros show off a variety of skills on horseback in nine events.

Before the Mexican Revolution of the early 20th century, competitions would commonly take place at haciendas. However, these properties were expropriated through land reforms in 1917, prompting the country's riders to form an association four years later to continue their traditions.

The reforms resulted in charrería's ultimate classification as a sport, one which UNESCO declared a Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.

When did soccer become a professional sport in Mexico?

Before the start of the 1943-44 season. The foundation for what is now the Mexican Federation was laid down in 1922 with the creation of the Federación Mexicana de Football Association. Among its first statutes was the recognition of a professional system, though it wasn't until 1943 that teams bowed to government pressure to formalize that status before the the country's labor secretariat.

The clubs who formed part of that first season included Mexico City's Club América, España, Asturias, Atlante and Marte; Guadalajara and Atlas from Jalisco state; and Veracruz state's ADO, Veracruz and Moctezuma. Asturias would emerge as the first champion of Mexican professional soccer's modern era.

Who scored Mexico's first World Cup goal?

Juan Carreño, at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay. Mexico and France kicked off that tournament, the first organized by FIFA, at Montevideo's Estadio Pocitos, with Carreño scoring in the 70th minute. It would be Mexico's only tally of the match in France's eventual 4-1 victory. Further, that first version of El Tri to participate in a World Cup left Uruguay without any points in tow.

Mexico's Oscar Bonfiglio was the first goalie in World Cup history to allow a goal, courtesy of France's Lucien Laurent. He was also the first keeper to stop a penalty shot, blocking an attempt from Argentina's Fernando Paternoster.

The love for soccer in Mexico is such that in 2026 it will become the first three-time host of a World Cup, the first to be organized jointly by three countries (Canada, Mexico and the U.S).

What sport has given Mexico the most titles?

Boxing. Mexico is considered the second biggest powerhouse in the world after the U.S., with 160 world champions winning 200 belts overall.

Mexico also has the largest number of active champions of any country across divisions. Canelo Alvarez, boxing's top draw and a world champion in four weight classes, stands out among the pack. Among the others are Daniel Valladares (IBF mini lightweight), Julio Cesar Martinez (WBC flyweight), Juan Francisco Estrada (WBC super flyweight), Rey Vargas (WBC featherweight), Emanuel Navarrete (WBO flyweight and super flyweight) and Luis Alberto Lopez (IBF flyweight).

Mexican boxers have also won 13 Olympic medals all time, including two golds.

How many Olympic medals has Mexico won?

A total of 73: 13 gold, 24 silver and 36 bronze through Tokyo 2020. Mexico's first participation came in 1900 at the Paris Games, and its first medal came by way of the polo team, which earned bronze.

It would be 24 years before Mexico would again take part in the Games. This time around, its athletes returned to Paris as a delegation formally represented by a national Olympic committee. Mexico has been represented at every Olympics since.

The first woman to medal for Mexico was fencer María del Pilar Roldán, who participated in three Games before securing silver in individual foil on her home turf in 1968.

What Mexican sports figure is known for his silver mask?

That would be legendary lucha libre wrester El Santo (The Saint). Rodolfo Guzman Huerta, whose fame would transcend the ring during a professional career that lasted from 1942-1984, become a pop culture icon and folk hero in Mexico.

El Santo began his career as a heel but ultimately turned protagonist to win public support. Ten years after his pro debut, el Enmascarado de Plata (the Man in the Silver Mask) became the first luchador to appear in Mexican comic books; those remained in publication into the 1980's. He crossed into the world of film with 1958's "Santo contra el cerebro del mal" (Santo vs. the Evil Brain) and would star in 52 movies. El Santo died in 1984 and was buried wearing his iconic silver mask.

What is Mexico's oldest sports club?

Mexico Cricket Club, founded in 1827 by entrepreneurs and diplomats from Europe and the U.S. who had settled in Mexico City. The club was strictly known for cricket until 1901, when it formed a soccer club under the Liga Mexicana de Football Amateur Association that team would win a championship at the end of 1903-04.

The two sports teams would join the San Pedro Golf Club and switched to that name for the next season before merging with Mexico Country Club for the following campaign. The team folded in 1908.

What global sport was created in Acapulco?

Mexican businessman Enrique Corcuera, a fan of fronton who happened to have an outdoor court at his home in Acapulco, placed walls on the opposing ends and sides of his court to keep plant growth from invading the playing surface and to prevent the ball from bouncing to the neighbor's yard. The resulting ricochets proved to be a hit with players, and a net was added to divide the court.

The result was padel, or paddle tennis, which pits two sets of players seeking to win two of three sets. The sport follows the same scoring system as tennis, and players switch sides after three games. For the ball to be considered in play, it must touch the ground before hitting walls or fences. The only exception is the serve, where the ball can only hit the wall behind the serve area after a bounce but not the fencing down the sides.

Spanish resort promotor Alfonso de Hohenhole, a friend of Corcuera's who also happened to be European royalty, had tourist complexes along the Costa del Sol region in the south of Spain. Hohenhole proposed the idea of padel to Corcuera during one of his visits to Mexico and proceeded to build courts in Europe. Subsequently, courts popped up all over South America.

What is Mexican baseball's most successful team?

Diablos Rojos (Red Devils), based in Mexico City, are the winningest franchise in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol with 16 titles. Other top teams include Tigres de Quintana Roo with 12 titles, Sultanes de Monterrey with 10 and defending champion Leones de Yucatán, which is tied with Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos at five trophies apiece.