Francisco Rivero Vega, also known as Pollo de Rojas II tells us about his career in the Canarian Wrestling and his current position as a promoter of this sport.
“The Canarian wrestling with its unique peculiarities is part of the essence of the Canarian people, and sometimes the Canarian does not appreciate its value.”
- How were the beginnings of Francisco Rivero in the Canarian wrestling?
His time as a wrestler began in 1975 in the Canarian Wrestling Club Unión Gáldar, when he was 17 years old and ended in the same club in 1995, after having competed for nine different teams, and for him it was 20 years of blessing. Throughout this time as a wrestler he enjoyed this sport to the fullest, made many friends and, as he belonged to nine different teams, gained a broader vision of Canarian wrestling.
Francisco Rivero defines himself as a very dedicated athlete, as he put a lot of time into becoming a good fighter. He was also lucky enough to compete non-stop for 20 years, as he never had a major injury and that led him to retire without any injury from the Canarian wrestling. A fact that, according to his point of view, is due to how meticulous he was with his trainings and due to his devotion to the sport that he liked so much. As they say in the Canarian wrestling: “even to receive a punch you have to be trained.”
- How did he get to know this sport?
He believes that he started late to join the world of sport, as he was already 17. Living in the district of Gáldar called Rojas (that is where his nickname, El pollo de Rojas II comes from) he was surrounded by friends dedicated to Canarian wrestling, which awakened in him the enthusiasm of joining the sport, that had always been present in his life. In fact, it was Iraide Manchego, best wrestler of the Canarian Wrestling Club Unión Gáldar, who encouraged him to train for the first time, and that led Francisco to become a wrestler who got very attached to the sport. He trained every day with only one purpose: to become a good wrestler.
- How many clubs did he belong to?
As we already stated in the beginning of this article, Francisco Rivero, fought in nine different teams throughout his career as a fighter, in the following order: Unión Gáldar, Juan Ramón Jiménez from Guía, Balta de Brena Alta from La Palma, Buen Lugar from Firgas, Canarian Wrestling Club la Atalaya de Santa María from Guía, Acaymo from Telde, Tinamar de San Mateo, Canarian Wrestling Club from Maspalomas and San Antonio Abad de Fuencaliente from La palma.
In 1994, without even thinking about it, he returned to the wrestling club where he began his time as a wrestler, in other words, to the Canarian Wrestling Club Unión Gáldar, without having planned to return to that club in order to retire.
But then, at the beginning of 1995 he decided that his life as a wrestler had come to an end, in order to continue his professional life by founding his own sponsorship agency.
- Does he think that the Canarian wrestling has become a more known sport over the past years?
The Canarian wrestling has always had good times and not so good ones. From his point of view, he believes that the schools are back to teaching respectful behaviour to the upcoming generation, an aspect which had faded into oblivion. He thinks that this is a crucial moment, since this sport is currently receiving more support than ever before. Many of the necessary resources are available, such as professional instructors, who awaken in the students the feeling and enthusiasm for this old-established sport, which many of them did not even know or have forgotten. Competitions between schools could be organized in order to arouse the curiosity of the students for Canary wrestling, instead of only introducing this sport to them through exhibitions on special days, as for example on the Day of the Canary Islands. Like this, new talents for the future could be discovered, and the Canary Wrestling would continue being part of our history in the future.
It is possible to use the Canarian wrestling in many martial arts. It has always proved significant success in competitions of other martial arts all over the world. Furthermore, many Canarian wrestlers who have practiced other types of fighting (Sambo, Greek-Roman wrestling, etc.) have achieved worldwide success throughout history. One example is Santiago Ojeda, a former Canarian wrestler, who became vice world champion in judo. This means that our Canarian wrestling has an important and decisive basis to practice other martial arts.
In Francisco’s opinion, there is a very simple explanation for the fact that the Canarian wrestling match has slid into oblivion. He believes that the young generation has been neglected. People forgot that in order to have present and future, they also must take care of the next generation, and schools play a very important role here. Nowadays, this involves greater efforts, as currently, there are many more types of sports and therefore competition is stronger. Hence, in order for the Canary wrestling to become active again, genuine commitment is needed to be able to compete with the wide range of different sports.
“We are at a moment of growth when it comes to Canarian wrestling.”
- What is his actual role in the Canarian wrestling?
Some years ago, after he had already spent several years away from the battles, Francisco decided, to return to the Canarian wrestling by supporting it in this new digital era through social networks. His main objective was to help this sport through posts of historical and current events. He is very excited about the fact that former wrestlers and fans collaborate by providing him with important documents. This is why he believes he is playing a relevant role in the Canarian wrestling. We quote his phrase: “I am motivated and delighted by the fact that friends and fans collaborate on social networks.”
The aim of this support, which he is carrying out by communicating history and today’s news, is to follow up on all fighters from all the Canary Islands, through documents, photos and videos. Each of these postings cover two objectives. First, to confirm the teams in which each wrestler has fought and second, to remind of numerous teams, some that do not even exist anymore and have been forgotten.
“So far, we were only concerned about publishing the most important wrestlers of each team, so I have chosen to publish them all. Each team consists of twelve wrestlers, and everyone who has been a wrestler deserves to be acknowledged and remembered.”
After establishing a strategy and a series of targets, he achieved that his posts on the social networks enjoy a high level of acceptance and that’s how he created a peaceful space, where everyone leaves their comments in a positive way, which helps our Canarian wrestling to remain present day by day.
“If you have a clear strategy, an objective and a method, success is simple. It is based on communication and obtaining positive results.”
- Does he think that the Canarian wrestling has reached the importance and the position it deserves?
Yes, and it all began with the petition of the political party, led by Francisco Déniz, to consider the Canarian wrestling as a sport, which was unanimously approved by the Parliament of the Canary Islands. This makes it much easier to achieve success from now on.
“We have to be aware of the moment we are living in and the means available, and put all our energy into this new era, trying to guide it positively.”