Jack Veneno: The Most Dangerous Dominican

In 2007, the president of the Dominican Republic picked Jack Veneno to be his Sub-secretary of Sports. Whether he did so out of fear that Jack Veneno would beat him for failing to pay homage, only history can tell. However, it seems that the job was well deserved because Mr. Poison -- as his last name translates -- took sports to prisons. Whenever he entered a prison, he was received like royalty. The inmates treated him like a walking god-king.

Jack Veneno wasn't always a political appointee. Before his rise to prison fame, he was the most famous Dominican wrestler. My memories only go back as far as the early 90s, but from the way the adults around me spoke, it was as if the Dominican Republic didn't experience the effects of the Cold War. It seems that they were more embroiled in which villain would threaten Jack Veneno in the following week's match.

Before Rocky took down the Soviet Union by defeating Ivan Drago in 1985, Jack Veneno defeated the United States by taking down Ric Flair in 1982. Ric Flair would later go on to slander Jack by claiming that he allowed Jack to defeat him because he wanted to prevent a riot. Ric Flair showed his true colors in making a statement about Dominican fans rioting in response to a wrestler losing a match: he's a pussy. I've seen bad footage of the crowd and it looks like they weren't going wild, it just looks like Ric Flair was bloody and piledriven like a bitch. Jack Veneno didn't get to keep the Heavyweight belt, but he was treated by Dominicans as their world champion nonetheless.

The dude was so popular that even though I didn't watch his matches in the early 90s, I still knew all of his quotes: "The Son of Doña TaticaThe Champion of the Little Ball of the World." I only rediscovered him as an adult after figuring out that his name was Jack; I always presumed that his name was Yabeneno because that is how most Dominicans pronounce it. Jack Veneno is more than a name, he's an idea.

The idea that a hairy guy with skinny legs and a pot belly can take down anyone. He's a Dominican anyman who can handle himself like Superman: he can spin his arm real quickly and knock anyone out, a move dubbed "the manigueta." Hell, a few weeks of beard growth, daily spoonfuls of Nutritional Supplement Forty Malt (foltimal,) and daily fried plantains and I could look like Jack Veneno. He's an empowering role model because he doesn't make us insecure about our bodies and because he has a good relationship with his mother, who at first didn't approve of her son man-handling other men, but then accepted that it was too much a part of who he was.

The dude was as powerful as Hulk Hogan, as charismatic, and he looked like any Dominican; no wonder we loved him. There were rumors last year that he had succumbed to cancer and died. I didn't believe them for one minute; no one could possibly convince me that cancer can kill poison.