In the arts, sports, sciences and performance, numerous Dominicans stand out at the international level and are raising the Dominican flag high. It’s difficult to keep this section completely updated when Dominican men and women throughout the world are constantly obtaining achievements that fill the country with patriotic pride. Here we have compiled a list of some examples and significant information which serve as evidence of Dominicans leaving their mark on the international stage.
Outstanding Dominican Athletes Abroad
- Around 40 percent of baseball players in the Major and Minor Leagues come from Latin American countries, making the Dominican Republic a leader in the production of players.
- Osvaldo Virgil was the first Dominican to play in Major League Baseball (MLB), when he debuted for the New York Giants on September 23, 1956.
- Juan Marichal was the first Latin American pitcher to throw a no Hits no Run game in the history of the MLB in 1963. Throwing for San Francisco in Candlestick Park he beat the Houston Colts. He was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on June 31, 1983.
- Sammy Sosa, Dominican ballplayer renowned for his huge achievements in the MLB, in particular for his skill of hitting high-impact homeruns. Sosa hit 600 homeruns, making him the fifth player in the history of the Major Leagues to reach such a feat. He is the all-time homerun leader among Major League players born outside of the United States.
- Carlos Teo Cruz was the first Dominican boxer to obtained a world title by defeating the Puerto Rican Carlos Ortiz, the reigning Lightweight champion, in a 15 round fight celebrated in the Quisqueya Stadium in Santo Domingo.
- Félix Sánchez became the first Dominican to win a gold medal in the “Campeonato Mundial de Atletismo” (World Championships in Athletics) in the 400 meter hurdle race in 2001. The championship was celebrated in Edmonton, Canada. Sánchez finished with a time of 47.49 seconds. The runner, known as “Super Sánchez,” also is the first Dominican to earn a gold medal at the Olympic Games when he did so in Athens in 2004 and again at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
- Marcos Díaz won three awards for long distance swimming in 2003. The long-distance swimmer got his best mark when crossing the Bahía de Samaná in 3 hours, 40 minutes.
- Wanda Rijo won gold in the 2003 Santo Domingo Pan-American Games as a weightlifter.
- Juana Arrendel was crowned high jump champion when she obtained a gold medal in the 2003 Santo Domingo Pan-American Games.
- Aris Azcona, known as “El Sensacional,” became the first Latin American to win the superbike award, the highest award in motorcycling, in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
- Yudelkis Contreras, weightlifter, won a gold medal in the women’s 53 kg final round of the 2011 Pan-American Games where she obtained a new continental record in weightlifting.
- Luguelín Santos is a Dominican athlete who achieved a silver medal in the 400 meter dash in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
- Gabriel Mercedes is the first Dominican Athlete of taekwondo to participate in the Olympic Games, with a bronze medal in the Pan-American Games and with two gold medals and one silver medal in the Central American and Caribbean Games. In the 2008 Olympic Games he was the winner of the silver medal in the 58 kg category.
- Karim Mella is a professional mountain climber and the first Dominican to reach the peak of Mount Everest in May, 2011.
- Iván Gómez is an elite Dominican mountain climber who, in 2011, was part of the first Dominican expedition to reach the peak of Mount Everest. In July 2012 he became the first Dominican that had scaled the highest mountains of the five inhabited continents of the planet.
- Joel Rosario, Dominican horseback rider, won first place in the Dubai World Cup race, celebrated in the racetrack of that city in 2013. The same year the horseback rider was crowned in the Kentucky Derby. He is ranked one of the best jockeys in the United States. In 2015 he received second place in the Belmont race, riding the horse Frosted.
- Víctor Estrella is a professional Dominican tennis player that has played in several main world tournaments, including the Roland Garros and the US Open. In 2014 he reached the Rank of 65 on the Professional Tennis Association (ATP) world ranking. At the beginning of 2015 he won his first title in the ATP World Tour, getting closer to the top-50 ranking of the Emirates ATP. Estrella has achieved all of his tennis achievements after the age of 30, entering the top 100 for the first time at the age of 33.
- Pedro Martínez, ex Dominican pitcher, who played in the Major Leagues, was a three time winner of the Cy Young Award, eight time All-Star and champion of the 2004 World Series. He was honored at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in February, 2015.
- Leonel de los Santos, Dominican boxing champion of the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz in 2014.
- Considered one of the ten best programmers in the world in 2010, Olson Ortiz is a Dominican chess player, computer engineer, programmer and mathematician, that has proposed the goal of being the first Dominican Guinness Record winner for blindfolded chess. Olson Ortiz, professor from the PUCMM University, started playing chess at a very young age, and played his first game blindfolded alongside his brother at the age of 13. With his self-taught skills he succeeding in conquering the field of mathematics while representing his country in the Ibero-American Olympiads in 1994 in Brazil and in 1995 in Chile, gaining third place among teams in Brazil, first place among teams in Chile and an individual bronze medal.
Did you know? In 2011 the Dominican expedition of mountain climbers called “Excelsior” reached the summit of Mount Everest. Karim Mella, Iván Gómez and Federico Jovine raised the Dominican flag and filled the country with pride. Some years later a movie was made called “La Montaña” (The Mountain) that narrates this impressive feat.
Did you know? In 2013 the Dominican Republic won the Baseball World Classic in San Francisco, California.
Did you know? The Dominican selection of Volleyball “Las Reinas del Caribe” (The Queens of the Caribbean), have become a legend for their successful trajectory at the international level. The professional volleyball players have won medals in the Central American Games in San Salvador (2002), Cartagena (2006), Mayagüez (2010) y Veracruz (2014), and continue achieving success.
Dominican citizens are distinguished at the international level in sports, particularly in baseball. Only within the Major Leagues Dominicans represent a third of the total foreign players. One of these, the legendary pitcher Juan Marichal, of the San Francisco Giants, now many years ago was immortalized in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Among some distinguished names are Alex Rodríguez, the highest-paid player; Pedro Martínez, David Ortíz, Albert Pujols, Robinson Canó, Manny Ramírez, Sammy Sosa.
Beautiful Dominican Women Abroad
Beautiful with sweetness. That is how the Dominican women are. And to show it you only need to see the beauty queens that have honorably represented the country in important international competitions.
- Mariasela Álvarez, television producer and personality, won the crown in the 1982 Miss World competition, the first time that a Dominican achieved this award.
- Amelia Vega, Singer and model, was chosen Miss Universe in 2003, in the competition celebrated in the Figali Convention Center in Panama.
- Renata Soñé, achieved the position of 2nd Runner-Up in Miss Universe 2005, the position also achieved by Marianne Cruz in 2008.
- Ada Aimée de la Cruz was selected as 1st Runner-Up in Miss Universe 2009.
- Paola Núñez Valdez, was the first Dominican named Miss Universe Canada in 2015. She stood out for her beauty and her ability to overcome language barriers and the experience of being teased as a child when she arrived as an immigrant to Canada.
Outstanding Dominicans in Music, Comedy, Dance, on Stage or on Screen, Among Others Areas
- Charytin Goico. She is a native of Santa Cruz del Seibo, Dominican Republic, who became an international star. She acted in the film “Verano en Nueva York” (Summer in New York) alongside the Mexican Julio Alemán in 1983. Three years later she acted alongside Iris Chacón, Andrés García and Yolandita Monge in the soap opera “Escándalo.” She has lived in Puerto Rico, Spain and the United States. She has received a Soberano Award for her artistic trajectory and remains active in Miami TV. Her program “Show de Charytín” (Charytin’s Show) has been transmitted throughout the continent.
- Nuryn Sanlley. Better known as “La Pinky”, for her popular interpretation for more than 25 years in musical theatre youth performances, was a talented Dominican actress, singer and producer of television and theatre. “La Pinky” annually performed in the National Theatre of the Dominican Republic for more than two decades.
Did you know? A Dominican, Providencia Paredes, was the personal assistant to Jackeline Kennedy Onassis; and other Dominicans have been distinguished as Hollywood artists, starting with the iconic María Montez, called in her time “la Reina del Technicolor” (the Queen of Technicolor, for the adventure movies that she filmed in the 40s. Among those distinguished actors and actresses in the present are Zoe Saldaña, the female protagonist in the film Avatar; Michelle Rodríguez, Dania Ramírez and Merlin Santana.
There are distinguished Dominican figures in politics, in public service positions, as elected mayors, councilmembers and state legislators, among them a senator in New York, Adriano Espaillat, chosen as the first Congressperson in the United States that was formerly an undocumented immigrant, and a child of Dominicans, born in Buffalo, Thomas E. Pérez, who is today a member of the Presidential Cabinet of the United States, as the Labor Secretary.
Did you know? An emblematic figure in fashion in the United States is the Dominican Oscar de la Renta, one of the most important designers of the 20th Century. Among those who have worn his products were American First Ladies, like Jackeline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, and famous artists, among them Nicole Kidman, Cameron Díaz, Penélope Cruz, Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey, Dolores del Río, and Sarah Jessica Parker. One of his recent designs was the dress worn by Amal Alamuddin in her much-talked-about wedding in Venice, Italy with the famous actor George Clooney.
Did you know? Two writers of Dominican nationality have won distinctions in the field of North American literature — Junot Díaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2008 and Julia Alvarez, chosen for her work “In the Time of the Butterflies”.
Did you know? Cid Wilson, who has Dominican parents, earned national recognition as the number one Specialty Retail Analyst by Forbes Magazine in 2006. He is also director of the National Council of La Raza, and was appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Museum of the American Latino Study Commission to create a museum dedicated to recognizing the history of Latin Americans in the United States. He serves as the President and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Corporate Responsibility (HACR), promoting the participation of Hispanics in Fortune 500 companies.
“Ordinary” Dominicans Raising the Dominican Flag at the International Level
- Carla Curiel, a Dominican resident of Miami, Florida is the founder of Mundo Lanugo, a business dedicated to supporting Latin mothers in the United States to spread the wealth of Hispanic culture and keep alive Latin traditions. Lanugo is a world of youth entertainment inspired in Latin culture. With diverse people, history and fun adventures, Mundo Lanugo offers children a world full of art, books, music, traditions and Latin values, helping them to develop a strong sense of identity and love for their races. It all began when Carla was pregnant with her twins and started to constantly question how she was going to share her culture, values and Dominican traditions with her daughters so far from “home.” Her children would be “American citizens and Latinas at heart.” www.MundoLanugo.com has been recognized on CNN en español, NBC, Telemundo, Univisión, NBC Latino, Being Latino, Miami Marlins, Mamás Latinas, and Latin Recap, among others programs.
- Aimee Carrero is the Dominican that will interpret the voice of the first Latin princess in Disney Junior, Elena of Avalor, which will debut in 2016 in a special episode of Sofia the First, a program with international success and recognition directed towards pre-school children. Without doubt it is a historical moment that a company like Disney recognizes the importance of Latin culture in the United States, expressed through a new princess in its fantasy world.
- Paola Santana is a Dominican lawyer with high entrepreneurial spirit who has been noted for her work in NASA’s Singularity University, whose founders, Ray Kurzweil y Peter Diamandis, support her efforts. She is the co-founder of Matternet, Inc., a business pioneer in the use of drones to deliver goods to inaccessible places or vulnerable areas. Paola dreamed of transforming the world and through Matternet she believes it is possible by connecting rural communities with markets, thus alleviating poverty and delivering supply packages of important goods, like medicine. Her contributions to support transport systems and modern communication also can be utilized by developed countries to improve, for example, traditional postal services. “Matternet does for materials what the Internet does for information.” www.matternet.us
- Juan Camilo, Dominican that created his own craft beer in New York and given thousands the chance to drink the Creole flavor. Dyckman Beer is the brand created by Juan in 2012, that today successfully is sold in numerous bars and restaurants in the Big Apple and the Dominican Republic. www.dyckmanbeerco.com
- Jenny Alcántara, medical doctor from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD), is a Dominican specialist in cosmetic surgery and nutrition and the founder of Jenn Health Group with headquarters in Spain and of “Eat Fit Hit”, personalized online method that helps thousands of people throughout the world get their desired body. www.eatfithit.com
- Víctor Rasuk. American actor of Dominican ancestry the only Latino in the cast of the film Fifty Shades of Grey, based on the literary trilogy by the same name, interpreted the personality of José Rodríguez, close friend of the protagonist Anastasia Steele.
- Fiordaliza Rodriguez, judge that became, in February 2015, the first Dominican woman to be appointed to the Family Court in the Bronx, New York.
- José Fermín Ceballos, Dominican artists based in New Orleans, dedicated to promoting the fusion of jazz music with Creole flavor.
Did you know? In 2014 the first national exhibition of the Dominican Republic was presented at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, one of the most prestigious cultural events in the world that promote new trends in art. The Laboratorio de Arquitectura Dominicana (LAD) was chosen as the curator of the national exhibition. Part of the material will be exhibited in 2015 in the prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York, included in “Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980”, a display of postures, debates and architectural creativity in Latin America. This will be the first time that projects from the Dominican Republic will be presented in the rooms of MoMa, founded in 1929 with the objective of spreading modern and contemporary art.
Did you know? The Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD), has one initiative called Dominicans You Should Know in which it shows the life of wonderful Dominicans around the world. Celebrities, athletes, business owners, entrepreneurs, artists and ordinary people with extraordinary lives, exhibited in short interviews for everyone to watch and enjoy.
You can Access all of the Dominicans You Should Know videos at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc3ReeZmeOQJFZ7FSH4S1wPKrg6GnN7Kc