The greatest sports stars who are FilAm

Wesley So is a Filipino American chess champion. Photo by Euku/Creative Commons

The modern-day United States is a wonderful mix of nationalities and cultures, with the country physically and metaphorically shaped by the waves of immigration throughout its history. Each culture brings new foods, customs, traditions and expertise, helping to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Filipinos have been living on the land that now makes up the United States of America for more than 400 years, the first recorded landings in California dating back to 1587. There are more than 4 million Filipino Americans, and they are largely concentrated in the states of California, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Nevada. These numbers are also set to grow, as people from the Philippines are currently the 4th largest immigration group in the country.

Shaping America, past and present

For these reasons, it is no surprise FilAms have had a significant effect on America and its successes. Approximately 250,000 Filipinos fought alongside American troops during the Second World War. They were also heavily involved in fighting for workers’ rights as part of the United Farm Workers movement in the 1960s, with activists like Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz leading the Delano Grape strike in 1965. Filipino Americans have continued to make great contributions, particularly in the arts. Musicians such as Allan Pineda Lindo (apl.de.ap), movie actors like Vanessa Hudgens, and theater artists like Lea Salonga have made significant contributions to contemporary culture. 

Sporting greatness

Filipino Americans have also had a significant impact on the American sporting landscape. Sports brings people together, no matter who they are or what the sport is. For Filipinos, however, both sports and sportsmanship play an important role in their culture and way of life. The common culture can add new levels of enjoyment to sports, particularly when a group of people are supporting the same team as it creates new sources of interest in the sport and helps grow personal bonds. Whilst sports betting is not particularly popular in the Philippines, it is in most communities within the United States. It too can help to add a new dimension to watching a sport, creating an additional element of interest in a particular game. For people looking to try this for the first time, many providers offer free and bonus bet incentives as they try to compete for new customers.

Filipino Americans have seen success in just about every imaginable sport, including basketball, fencing, football, soccer, tennis, and golf. Here is a look at some of them.

Wesley So

Chess Grandmaster, Wesley So is a three-time Filipino chess champion, who became the U.S. Chess Champion in 2017, three years after moving to the country. So is currently ranked 14th in the FIDE Top Players list, with a current Elo rating of 2767. His all-time greatest score was 2822 in 2017 just after he became U.S. champion – which catapulted him to second place in the rankings. So is currently one of only 11 to have an Elo score above 2800; between 2008 and 2013 he was also the youngest ever player to have a score greater than 2600. 

After moving to the United States from the Philippines, So won the Millionaire Chess Tournament in 2014,  Bilbao Chess Master in 2015, the Grand Chess Tour in 2016 and the Tata Steel Masters in 2017. He has since represented the United States at the 42nd Chess Olympiad, where he won gold in both the individual and team competitions. 

Mixed martial artist John Dodson is experienced in both the flyweight and bantamweight divisions.

John Dodson

John Dodson, whose mother is Filipina, is a mixed martial artist with experience of fighting in both the flyweight and bantamweight divisions. An eight-year veteran in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he is currently ranked 12th in the official UFC Bantamweight rankings. First competing in December of 2011, Dodson very quickly made a name for himself in this first season when he reached the finals after delivering a second-round KO to Johnny Bedford, a feat that was later voted “Knockout of the Season” by UFC fans. In the finals, Dodson won with a technical knockout against TJ Dillashaw, making him the first ever winner of the bantamweight class of The Ultimate Fighter competition. 

Tedy Bruschi played in the NFL for 13 years.  Photo by Euku

Tedy Bruschi

Now retired, Tedy Bruschi was a football player who enjoyed a 13-season career as a linebacker for the New England Patriots. During this time, Bruschi contributed to three Super Bowl victories in 2001, 2003 and 2004, as well as the 2004 Pro Bowl. Having played college football for Arizona, he was picked in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft. His career at the Patriots has seen him entered into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, as well as winning a number of awards including the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year and Best Comeback Athlete ESPY. 

Through their contributions to all areas of American society, Filipino Americans have helped to shape the country into what it is today. They continue to make great contributions, including in the field of sports.

© The FilAm 2019



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