Courtesy: WikipediaXIX Olympic Games in 1968, making it the first Latin American city to do so (Rio de Janeiro will be the second in 2016). The country has also hosted the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1970 and 1986.
Mexico's most popular sport is association football (soccer). It is commonly believed that Football was introduced in Mexico by Cornish miners at the end of the 19th century. By 1902 a five-team league had emerged with a strong English influence. Football became a professional sport in 1943. Since the "Era Professional" started, Mexico's top clubs have been Guadalajara with 11 championships, América with 10 and Toluca with 9. In Mexican Football many players have been raised to the level of legend, but two of them have received international recognition above others. Antonio Carbajal was the first player to appear in five World Cups, and Hugo Sánchez was named best CONCACAF player of the 20th century by IFFHS. Mexican's biggest stadiums are Estadio Azteca, Estadio Olímpico Universitario and Jalisco Stadium. Notable achievements by Mexican national soccer teams include winning the 1999 Confederations Cup, the 2005 U-17 World Cup, and being runners-up in the 1977 U-20 World Cup, 1993 Copa America, and 2001 Copa America. The Mexican team was also a runner-up in the 2007 Beach Soccer World Cup. Mexican football clubs have achieved good results in international competitions like the Copa Libertadores and the FIFA Club World Championship.
The national sport of Mexico is Charreada. Bullfighting is also a popular sport in the country, and almost all large cities have bullrings. Plaza México in Mexico City, is the largest bullring in the world, which seats 55,000 people. Professional wrestling (or Lucha libre in Spanish) is a major crowd draw with national promotions such as AAA, LLL, CMLL and others.
Baseball is very popular, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, Yucatán Peninsula and the Northern States. In some regions baseball has traditionally been more popular than soccer. The season runs from March to July with playoffs held in August. The Mexican professional league is named the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. Current champions (2007) are Sultanes de Monterrey who defeated in a tight series Leones de Yucatán. However, the best level of baseball is played in Liga Mexicana del Pacífico, played in Sinaloa, Sonora and Baja California. Given that it is played during the MLB off-season, some of its players are signed to play with the league 8 teams. Current champions (2007) are Yaquis de Obregon. The league champion participates in the Caribbean Series, a tournament between the Champions of Winter Leagues of Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic; the 2009 Caribbean Series edition was held in Mexicali. While usually not as strong as the United States, the Caribbean countries and Japan, Mexico has nonetheless achieved several international baseball titles. Mexico has had several players signed by Major League teams, the most famous of them being Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.
Mexican clubs (such as Monterrey La Raza) participate in North American indoor soccer leagues. Mexico is also a leading country in Basque Pelota. Tennis has also traditionally been popular in Mexico, having produced some great players like Rafael Osuna, though international successes have been very few in recent years.
Mexico is an international power in professional boxing (at the amateur level, several Olympic boxing medals have also been won by Mexico). Vicente Saldivar, Rubén Olivares, Salvador Sánchez, Julio César Chávez, Ricardo Lopez and Erik Morales are but a few Mexican fighters who have been ranked among the best of all time.
The most important professional basketball league is the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional and covers the whole Mexican territory, where the Soles de Mexicali are the current champions. In 2007 three Mexican teams will be competing in the American Basketball Association. In the northwestern states is the CIBACOPA Competition, with professional basketball players from Mexico and the U.S. Universities and some teams from the NBA.
Mexico is a major international power in Tae kwon do. Mexican athletes have achieved renown in disciplines like marathon running, racewalking and diving.
American football is played at the major universities like ITESM, UANL, UDLA, IPN and UNAM. The college league in Mexico is called ONEFA. Several Mexican players have been signed by the NFL over the years. Rugby is played at the amateur level throughout the country with the majority of clubs in Mexico City and others in Monterrey, Guadalajara, Celaya, Guanajuato and Oaxaca.
Auto racing is very popular in Mexico. Throughout the years, Mexico has hosted races for some of the most important international championships such as Formula One, NASCAR, Champ Car, A1 Grand Prix, among others. Mexico also has its own NASCAR-sanctioned stock car series, the NASCAR Mexico, which runs 14 events in different cities, drawing large crowds. Other forms of racing include Formula Renault, Formula Vee, touring cars, Pick-up trucks, endurance racing, rallying, and off-road.
Ice hockey is played in larger cities like Monterrey, Guadalajara, Villahermosa, Culiacán and Mexico City.
Notable Mexican athletes include golfer Lorena Ochoa, who is currently ranked first in the LPGA world rankings, Ana Guevara, former world champion of the 400 metres (1,300 ft) and Olympic subchampion in Athens 2004, and Fernando Platas, a numerous Olympic medal winning diver.
Sport fishing is popular in Baja California and the big Pacific coast resorts, while freshwater bass fishing is growing in popularity too. The gentler arts of diving and snorkeling are big around the Caribbean, with famous dive sites at Cozumel and on the reefs further south. The Pacific coast is becoming something of a center for surfing, with few facilities as yet; all these sports attract tourists to Mexico.
Another sport in which Mexico is competitive at the international level is polo.