Mexico will spend more on baseball, race walking and boxing, president says
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday that his administration would spend money on developing Mexico’s baseball, race walking and boxing, providing the sports with 500 million pesos (about $25.9 million).
“The majority (of the money) is for baseball, but there’s also race walking and boxing, three sports that we’re going to give special attention to,” the president said during his morning press conference.
Lopez Obrador said the funds would be appropriated as a supplement to the regular federal budget for sports.
Mexico will create baseball academies, promote race walking and develop boxing programs in different areas, the president said.
The 65-year-old Lopez Obrador, who was a good center fielder in his youth, still plays in senior leagues once in a while, hitting more than .300 in competition.
Last month, Lopez Obrador inaugurated the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in the northern industrial city of Monterrey, promising those in attendance that he would secure more funding for the sport.
Mexico has about 20 players in the Major Leagues most years and has beaten some top teams, including the defending champion United States, in the World Baseball Classic .
The Mexican squad eliminated the US team in 2006 and once again beat its northern neighbor in 2013.
Mexico has won most of its Olympic medals in race walking and boxing.
Race walker Daniel Bautista won a gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and Ernesto Canto did the same in 1984 in Los Angeles, both in the 20 kilometers, while Raul Gonzalez took the gold in Los Angeles in the 50 kilometers.
Mexican race walkers have also won five silver and two bronze medals in Olympic competition.
Boxing has yielded two Olympic titles, with flyweight Ricardo Delgado and featherweight Antonio Roldan winning the gold at the 1968 Mexico City Games.
Mexican boxers have also won two silver medals and eight bronze medals in Olympic competition.
Lopez Obrador said his administration wanted to leverage Mexican athletes’ success in these sports and hoped the additional financial support would lead to more success.
The president is putting additional money into baseball, race walking and boxing at a time of austerity.
The administration decided to end direct federal funding for the Mexican Grand Prix and National Football League (NFL) games.
Lopez Obrador will honor the contract signed with the NFL for this year, but it may be the end of the line for the American professional football league in Mexico.