Politics in sports? How about sports in politicians?

By Eddie Siguenza
For Variety
March 8, 2004

YONA – Never before has Guam’s governing body been more sports-influenced. And I’m talking about ALL three powers - executive, legislative and judicial. They’re occupied with officials possessing sports backgrounds. I’m talking about those who actually got on a field, road or course and got their hands (and feet) dirty. No benchwarmers.

Start at the top, with Gov. Felix Camacho. He used to strap on a football helmet with the Father Duenas Friars in the school’s forgotten glory years in the mid-1970s. He was a starting linebacker and rotating cornerback. There’s baseball blood in him, too. Back then, if you were from Tamuning, you most likely were in Little League.

Lt. Gov. Kaleo Moylan was with the Tamuning Eagles in the Guam Youth Football League, as were his football siblings Miki and Troy. Before they were Good Guys, they were bad boys, young gridiron gladiators.

The Guam Legislature is cluttered with sportsmen and sportswomen. Nobody in office can beat Sen. Robert Klitzkie (R-Yigo) in endurance. He’s run several Guam Marathons, all 26.2 miles of them. At last count, he completed nine races. He happens to be married to an island running role model, Lou Klitzkie, a 1988 Olympian.

Sen. Tina Muna-Barnes (D-Mangilao) has two sports histories. She played basketball and softball for Guam in the South Pacific Games. Sen. John Quinata (D-Talofofo) also plays softball and has motocross background in him. Throw Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. (D-Yona) into the Legislature’s softball arena as well. Yet there are those who feel his better half, Jen, plays better than the senator. She’s a wicked infielder who routinely throws out men in co-ed games.

As far as international competition, Sen. Jesse Lujan (R-Tamuning) leads the pack. The former Mr. California and Mr. Olympian bodybuilder used to flex so hard, others got hurt just watching.

Sen. Randy Cunliffe has an unofficial soccer degree to go with the official ones he earned in law and politics. Even Sen. (and Speaker) Ben Pangelinan has been seen kicking a soccer ball, particularly at celebrity matches. The speaker once scored a goal against the women’s national team in a fund-raiser a few years back.

Cunliffe also regularly supports the Guam National Olympic Committee. He’s a vice president. So is US district court judge John Unpingco. Unpingco serves notice as well with the Guam Swim League.

But Unpingco isn’t the only judiciary head who’s sports related. The most recognized is Superior Court judge Mike Bordallo, who not long ago was a Miller Football League all-star lineman and a soccer standout. Opposing players knew better than to piss off the judge. If Bordallo doesn’t get you on the field, he gets you where it hurts more - in the courtroom.

Supreme Court justice Frances Tydingco-Gatewood dedicates to golf as well. Maybe soon, rugby. And soon-to-be justice Robert J. (Bob) Torres, an attorney, is still an awesome soccer player. Sometimes you’ll see him at the Father Duenas gym in basketball shorts, too.

Stretch this further to other elected leaders. Mangilao mayor Nito Blas used to be a boxer. Ironically, he earned the name "Canvas Back" because after dancing around a ring, his back usually ended up on the canvas. Sinajana vice mayor Ben Lizama will always be honored for his role on the historic Guam team that won the 1975 South Pacific Games basketball gold medal. Yona mayor Jose Terlaje used to fling a mean softball as a fast-pitch thrower as well.

So a good number of Guam’s powers have respectable sports backgrounds. Other notables include former Sen. John Aguon, who was so good at basketball the Guam Basketball League named one of two conferences (along with standout Tony Susuico) after him. Former Sen. Eddie Duenas was also known for his basketball and baseball skills.

And let’s not forget ex-Lt. Gov. Kurt Moylan, our current lieutenant governor’s father, who likewise was a gifted hoopster and ballplayer.

But the MVP (Most Valuable Politician) in Guam sports is former two-time Gov. Joseph Ada. A pitcher-infielder with the old College of Guam (now the university), several manamko recall how he struck out three batters on just three pitches. Each swung once, missed, then sat down for life.
Too bad, though, Ada and a horde of the island’s best athletes never got the chance to compete at the amateur’s highest event - the Olympics. Who knows where Guam would be today had an Olympic committee existed on Guam decades ago.

Send comments to edwardsiguenza@hotmail.com



More Articles in March 2004