Faculty Led Study Program to Cuba | Jai Alai a Cuban Sport
Faculty Led Study Program to Cuba
Jai Alai in Cuba.
I recently to a trip to Cuba in June 2017. The new regulations of Trump had just been announced a few days prior on June 15th and I was heading to Havana with TWU (Texas Woman’s University).
While we were visiting a community project in Havana I noticed an abandoned court of some sort. I took mental note as I have seen these abandoned courts throughout Cuba in my travels and I never stopped to ask what they were,
Upon my return, I was asked by my web designer Kenny, if I had heard of Jai Alai in Cuba. I looked up the sport and realized that those courts is where Jai Alai is played. I have done some Internet research, which is a little helpful, but now I am on a mission to discover if and where the game is still played in Cuba. I am interested in finding players and perhaps brining equipment to them.
This game is the fastest game in the world and the history goes back to the Basque country in northern Spain. I did find some history of Jai Lai in Cuba, below, but stayed tuned for my actual research and what I find on my next trip to Cuba.
HISTORY OF THE JAI ALAI (PILOTA VASCA) EN CUBA.
The History of the Jai Alai (La Pelota (Basque: pilot) Vasca in Cuba all started in the year 1898 and it was brought, of course, by the Basques. It was played in Havana and is attributed to Tomás Mazzantini the first project established in Cuba. Not forgetting another of the first in the importance of the popular sport that was Rufino Osoro, who would be who requested permission to make official it on the island and Basilio Zarrasqueta, who replaced Rufino Osoro and was the most enthusiastic promoter of this sport in our island.
These three men, have knowledge of this sport, perfected in the Basque provinces, but whose history and name dates from very ancient times.
Them, not without effort, achieved the award of the block of land between the streets of Concordia, Lucena, virtues and Marquis González, owned by the municipality which had intended to deposit materials. The work proposed is required for its construction of a very high budget, but their efforts attained many give him support.
Among them, D. Ignacio Nazábal, D. Segundo Méndez, D. Augusto Lezama and D. Juan Francisco Uribarri, which together with Zarrasqueta managed a few months later, on May 7, 1901, was born the first Temple of Basque pelota destined to play, in the Basque style of basket to tip: the “Jai-Alai Fronton of Havana”. At its opening was heard, for the first time on the island, the notes of the immortal anthem of José María Iparraguirre “Gernikako arbola”, together with our national anthem. The work wasn’t long time gained the name of “The Palace of the cries”.
The first directive of the Jai Alai Fronton was selected among representatives of banking and commerce. The first picture of pelotaris who inaugurated the Court “Jai-Alai Fronton of la Havana” was hired by Mr. Rufino Osoro. For the first time the front and “backs” San Juan, Lavaca, Juan Rincón (Navarrete), Oyarzun and Elicegui stepped Havana Court. Backs are players who are placed back.
In Cuba, this sport took hold with firmness, although he had moments of rising and casualties. In 1912 beat the deadline granted by the municipality of Havana to the “company Pediment Jai-Alai” and the building of Concordia and Lucena silenced for long years, but during that time there were also efforts and many efforts because it opened again.
The weekly “La Cancha Habanera” was the first magazine that was published in defense of the Basque sport. Its first issue was released on Sunday, November 16, 1902. Founded by the Lords Domingo Asencio and Mirelles and Manuel rods. Other journals on Basque pelota, such as “El Beti-Jai”, “El Pelotari”, “La Pelota de la Habana” and “Happy holidays”, emerged very soon after latter journalists Atanasio Rivero, Eulogio Díaz Miranda and Fernando Rivero.
Those attending the games, at the time, called attention not only the players with their clothing consisting of Red beret, white jacket and black pants, but also “runners” bets that stood out with their movements in the contracancha, by his comings and goings, his continued voice and by its agility and mind clear in doing the betting Crusades. Runners were necessary for the defense of public money, since they represent the guarantees by backed by companies that had appointed them. In an era in which public transportation was still pulled by horses, Havana began to be the center of an increasingly lucrative sport, thanks to the rising stakes.
Finally on day 12 of August 1919, approved the so-called “law of the promotion of tourism”, voted by the Congress and signed by the then President of the Republic, major General Mario G. Menocal. Thanks to under this Act, Elicio Arguelles changed back to the Basque ball game in Cuba.
For this reason, two new pediments were erected. One in Cienfuegos, on November 13, 1920, also with the name of “Jai-alai”, which means “Merry Festival”, and the other in Havana with the name of “New Gable”, inaugurated on January 28, 1921. Basilio Zarrasqueta was appointed administrator of the “company Pediment Jai-Alai”.
On the night of Saturday May 11 was inaugurated the first season of the Basque sport in its second stage in Havana. That night played the first match Higinio and Egozcue. The second party, Eguiluz and Altamira taking opponents to greater Cazali and Arnedillo. Eguiluz, Cuban-born, was the star, which in the new constellation sports, presented to the Havana public.
Soon, by the Palace of screams began to parade players of world fame. The seasons were beginning the first Sunday of October and ended on June 20. After that date all players, bookmakers and professors as fascinating game, returning to the peninsula with pockets full of money.
But another pediment was also considered as one of the attractions which Havana at the same time: the “Habana-Madrid” pelota Court. Built for the game from other sports and in addition with the difference that was practised by women perfectly trained, in the handling of the racket.
The successful initiative which gave place to implement this new sport in Cuba, was due firstly to Mr Panchito del Barrio, which together with the Lords Aurelio Vázquez, Fernando Serafin and Angel of the Hill obtained the corresponding authorization for its implementation and operation.
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The inauguration of the “Havana Madrid” took place on 13 October 1922, once completed the construction of a proper building, with a steel and brick framework, and with a field of thirty-four meters long by nine and a half wide.
At the opening ceremony included seventeen “Demoiselles players”, that… “they live in the same building under the care of relatives of respectability, and just out ride or to proceedings accompanied by ladies who are in their care, avoiding in this way is maleen with deals that could be harmful to their good name and the company ‘s”… First of all the honor and morality.
But the Jai Alai, by their environment marked by the stakes, was eliminated after 1959. The tradition disappeared… and most of the players, bookmakers and moved to Florida to give continuity to a tradition which, undoubtedly, had been the patrimony of the Republic.
I cannot conclude without naming the famous Cuban cestapuntista José Antonio Martínez Díaz (“cold”). Born on November 5, 1927 in Havana, and died this year. It played in the best handball courts in the world, and got several awards during his long career, as the of the tournament Diamond Doubles, with Isasa; in World Doubles, Careaga, Egurbide and Javier…
Without a doubt he was one of the best players of his time and many fans of the Basque country still remember “that Cuban high and moreno playing big matches of the time next to Txutxo Larrañaga, Txurruka and the entire cast of large puntistas of the time…”
In this sport we also had in Cuba our stars.
THE CUBAN HISTORY, HOLLYWOOD.
Arnold Varona, Editor.
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