About 30 years, Carlitos Colon he filled more fields, arenas and stadiums than any other athlete in the history of Puerto Rico, bringing joy and emotion to every corner, from Patillas to Aguadilla and from Mayaguez to Fajardo.

This is not counting his appearances in the USA, Japan, Canada, Dominican Republic, Mexico and in the Lesser Antilles as one of the main representatives of the Island in professional wrestling of that period.

However, despite his huge influence on Puerto Rican culture and his induction into the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Fame in 2014, his name was never considered in his homeland for induction into the Puerto Rican Sports Hall of Fame.

And this is the fact that during all this time he was not even nominated, which is an important condition for his consideration.

Until this year…

By May 31, Colon, 74 years old and in frail health, will appear for the first time on the list of nominees the Pavilion will evaluate for promotion in its 2023 class.

Primera Hora took it upon themselves to interview several local sports figures to see if they agreed with the possible induction of Colon into this pavilion, and the support was unanimous.

In fact, most immediately responded with disbelief, “Why isn’t Carlitos Colon gone yet?”

One of them was Yadier Molina, a prominent former baseball player and current manager of the Vaqueros de Bayamón National Basketball Association.

“I thought it was a long time ago,” was Molina’s first reaction. “It should definitely be there! Carlos is a legend of this country. He has my full support to be there.”

Allans Colon, leader of the Cariduros de Fajardo in BSN, reacted similarly.

Carlitos Colon was “Tito” Trinidad before “Tito” Trinidad. Carlos was our Michael Jordan, our superhero, our defender of the homeland against all the tough fighters that came to Puerto Rico. He has to be there, and he has to be now, given his health issues.”

Wilhelmus Kaanen / Basketball manager

“This should be in the Puerto Rico Sports Hall of Fame long overdue! Carlos Colon is synonymous with struggle. When you think of wrestling, he is the first thing that comes to mind. Others are ‘running for second,’ as Giddel Padilla says,” Colon said.

“Carlos is an institution in this country. As a kid, I remember running out of the house a few times to watch him fight (Juan) “Pachino” Vicenza in Ponce (he laughs). I remember seeing old people crying with happiness when Carlitos won, I doubt there is anyone who has given people more emotions in this country than Carlos.

For his part, Wilhelmus Kaanen, coach of the Humacao Grays at BSN, backed his brother Allans on the impact of the “Acrobat of Puerto Rico”.

“Carlitos Colon was ‘Tito’ Trinidad before ‘Tito’ Trinidad. Carlos was our Michael Jordan, our superhero, our defender of the homeland against all the tough fighters that came to Puerto Rico. It has to be there, and it has to be now, given his health setbacks,” Kaanen said.

Carlitos Colon had a career from the 1960s until 2008, when he announced his retirement, although he later made several special appearances.

“You must be a great athlete”

Some argue that wrestling is an entertainment sport, and that the lack of a competitive element because its endings were predetermined would have disqualified Colon in many cases.

However, Olympic silver medalist Jaime Espinal and Pan American judo gold medalist Luis Martinez disagree with this statement.

“Whether it’s sports entertainment, it’s sports. This discipline requires athletic ability, basic combat skills, and knowledge of how to stop a fall. Not everyone can do it at an elite level like Carlos did for so many years. Not to mention that he was a symbolic figure in this country. For me, it should be there (in the Hall of Fame),” said Martinez, who is also the president of the Judo Federation and a senior member of the Hall.

“Wrestlers like Carlos have achieved more than so-called ‘elite athletes’ in other sports and at the Olympic level. To do this, you need to train hard, you need to be able to fight for the “keys”, you need to be able to do pirouettes, you need to be in great physical shape to endure a long fight, you need to learn the pain and you need to lift weights to look good if you want to achieve a high level. Not everyone can do it at an elite level and Carlos has been doing it at that level for a long time,” added Espinal, who will play Colon in the Puerto Rican wrestling film and is set to make his wrestling debut. June 11 at the Espíritu Wrestling Dojo poster on the Nilmarie Santini court.

Carlitos Colon was known during his wrestling days as a Puerto Rican acrobat.
Carlitos Colon was known during his wrestling days as a Puerto Rican acrobat. (supplied)

In addition, wrestling is certified by the Department of Recreation and Sports, requires a license to practice and even has its own designated commission, added Ricardo Dalmau, who was a DRD auditor and is now BSN president.

“They may say fights are predetermined, but you have to be an elite athlete to do what Carlos did at the highest level,” Dalmau said.

They are “Pride of Santa Isabel” fans

Dalmau himself said he was biased on the matter, having grown up influenced by local struggles since childhood and with Columbus as one of his heroes.

“I adore Carlitos Colon. I grew up with him. When I was little I knew all the wrestlers, I had wrestling dolls. I made my father (Raymond Dalmau) take me to all the Jubilee billboards. For me and for many, Carlitos Colon is an idol,” said the youngest of the Dalmau brothers.

In addition, he was a great promoter. As a promoter of the sport, he put Puerto Rico on the map by bringing in some of the biggest names in wrestling, including Andre “El Gigante”, Ric Flair, Harley Race, Abdullah the Butcher, the Road Warriors, the Funks Brothers (Dory and Terry). Not to mention he coached his kids Carly and Eddie and his nephew Orlando who has also come a long way. In fact, his son Carly went much further at the international level, but at the Puerto Rico level there was no one better than Carlos. If it was up to me, I should be in the Hall of Fame right there. There is no reason to wait.”

Jose Rivera and Carlitos Colon.
Jose Rivera and Carlitos Colon were a tag team for many years early in their careers with Capitol Sports Promotions.

Others who grew up enjoying Colon’s career included former players and current BSN assistants Manolo Cintron (Atleticos de San Germain) and Javier Rolon (Cariduros de Fajardo).

“My house couldn’t be called on Saturday until 2:00 p.m. because no one was going to answer the phone. We had to wait for the end of the wrestling show. As a child, I remember going to the river with “Piculin” Ortiz and Montserrat Rivera to play wrestle. We did contralonas, suplexes (he laughs). What young Puerto Rican in the 80s didn’t play wrestle thinking about being Carlitos Colon? Few people in this country have more stories than Carlitos and who have impacted so many people,” Cintron said.

“I was one of those who went to Hector Sol Bezares de Caguas every time Carlitos fought there. I grew up watching it and everyone loved it. Carlitos is an icon of sports and culture in Puerto Rico. “There’s no question in my mind that he should be in the Puerto Rico Sports Hall of Fame,” Rolon said.

Eddie Colon (left) with his brother Carlito, who also wrestled for World Wrestling Entertainment.  (Archive)
Eddie Colon – left – and Carlito, Carlitos Colon’s sons, also followed in his footsteps into wrestling.

It now remains to be seen if Colon will indeed be selected in this preliminary round on May 31, just before the symbolic 50th anniversary celebration of the World Wrestling Council (WWC) company he founded on June 24 in Bayamón. along with Victor Jovica and Gorilla Monsoon (Robert Marella) in 1973.

“This is the perfect moment to celebrate him, not only because it coincides with the 50th anniversary of his company, but also because of his health. It has to be now, when you can enjoy it and you can recognize the moment you’re in,” Espinal said.

“Without a doubt, the time has come to honor Carlitos, given his age and health. His son Eddie was a classmate and good friend of my son Julito. I have a lot of respect for him and it would be great if they honored him now. Awards are given for a lifetime and Carlitos deserves to enjoy this moment after bringing so much joy to this country,” added highly valued former national team coach Julio Toro, also a Hall of Famer.

Stacey Colon, daughter of Carlitos Colon, also made a career as a wrestler.
Stacey Colon, daughter of Carlitos Colon, also made a career as a wrestler. (supplied)