August 11, 2016–Alexander Vasquez, the legendary Belizean Cross Country cycling champion of the 1980 Belize Cross Country Cycling Classic, has died. Vasquez, who rode to prominence in winning the most popular Belizean sporting event – the Belize Cross Country, was found dead in his sleep according to family sources in Los Angeles, California where the former Belizean cyclist lived since his migration from Belize in the 1980’s.
Belizean Legends wishes to expresses its condolences to the family of Alexander Vasquez, who throughout his life and his struggles have always been a very kind and beautiful brother in the Los Angeles Belizean community where he lived and became an activist at one time in the Belizean organization called, “The Winners.”
Yours truly spent some quality time with Vasquez in 2014 while trying to make a documentary on his life as a Belizean Cross Country champion. Though it didn’t materialize, my many conversations with the legendary Alexander were refreshing as he chronicled the highlights of that very race in 1980 when he went against some of the best, including the legendary Kenrick Halliday and won. Vasquez would allude that he knew he was a better sprinter than the legendary Halliday, and said that he knew, that very day, that he was going to win, and that he was the best of them all that year being that he knew how much training went into his race.
Alexander’s community life as a Belizean immigrant was seen in action as the leader of “Winners” in 1983, a Belizean social club that had begun to contribute to Belize in areas of hurricane relief, scholarships for Belizean students, and other areas of need in his home country Belize. The Los Angeles Muslims of Belize, of which yours truly was a member of, had worked with Winners Club on various occasions and had collaborated in doing some memorable programs in the Los Angeles Belizean community together. So Alexander Vasquez’s Cross Country cycling win was transferred across shores as an activist for Belizean causes through Winners, which included the late Thurman Stuart and other Los Angeles-based Belizeans. His kind gesture and humble personality showed big time during those early years in the 1980’s, and we can still see his friendly smile that would be followed by a handshake.
Vasquez had reserved speaking to me about his cycling life and some of the most precious and credible information surrounding his sporting quest for the Cross Country cycling victory he finally won in 1980. He had said that he wanted to be in a proper state of mind to go on camera before doing our interview. For two years after that we had been meeting and he would always express that he has been doing his research on the Belize Cross Country to refresh his mind on dates, places, and how certain events occurred. He wanted to be as politically correct as possible since this brother was no fool, and apparently had been getting real coaching from his extended family through whom the contact was made with Vasquez on several occasions.
I was thrilled on the day Alexander won the Belize Cross Country cycling race in 1980. The moment of victory was clear to me as the bunch of twenty cyclists entered the former National Stadium, now Marion Jones Sporting Complex, while Vasquez was hounded by the legendary Belizean cycling pacer, Vincent Smith, who was making it clear that he wasn’t going anywhere. But the truth was told that very hot Holy Saturday afternoon as Vasquez outsprinted them all to win the great title and earned his right to wear the Holy Saturday garland.
Alexander Vasquez’s story is too large for a literary expose as this one, and had to be told from hearing the Champ himself, if life would have allowed it. There are no regrets here at Belizean Legends as to not having that famous documentary done on the outstanding Belizean rider, just that it would have been a good idea had he lived to tell us about those interesting moments that surrounded his famous victory in 1980, which also appeared to have brightened his spirit whenever he spoke about it.
May you live on in spirit, Belize’s Alexander the Great, and may many more Belizean cyclists, both present and future, continue to hold high that banner of Belizean cycling greatness that you and many others continued to hold high for Belize.
‘Xanda, gone but not forgotten!