Saturday, June 18, 2022

World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Barred from Flight From UK to the United States


In boxing news from across the pond, undisputed world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was refused entry to the United States tonight because of his former ties to Daniel Kinahan, who the United States has targeted as an organized crime leader.  Kinahan in recent years has played an important matchmaking role in professional boxing. 

It was widely reported that Fury was not allowed to board a flight from the United Kingdom to the United States by U.S. immigration officers and that more than 600 people with links to the Kinahan leader have been barred from entering the United States by U.S. authorities.

The denial of entry to the heavyweight champion of the world suggests that the U.S. government is willing to take a tough position on associates of Daniel Kinahan.


June 18, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, May 23, 2022

Immigrant of the Day: Albert Pujols (Reprise!)

Cxxnnxxr, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons>

Albert Pujols, the major league baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals, is no stranger to being immigrant of the day. Kevin highlighted him in 2007 when the Dominican-born player became a U.S. citizen, and again in 2017 when Pujols was on the verge of hitting his 600th home run (which he did and more).

Here's the thing about baseball. You've got hitters/fielders and you've got pitchers. They're different folks. Different skills. There's typically no crossover.

Pujols is, as you might guess, a hitter. He played first base for the cardinals for years. Then transitioned to becoming the team's designated hitter. That, for non-baseball folks, means he would step up and hit in lieu of the pitcher. Those 600+ home runs he's hit have many lauding him as a shoo-in for baseball's Hall of Fame once he retires.

Then came Sunday, May 15. The Cardinals were playing the Giants (S.F.). It was a blowout. In bottom of the eighth inning the Cards were ahead 15-2. The team's manager was looking around for someone to pitch the 9th so the team could avoid using a reliever. Pujols, 42, who had never before pitched, took the bait. He gave up 4 runs, but closed out the inning at 15-6.

After the game, Pujols told reporters it was: "A dream come true to say that I did it... It was fun. It wasn’t fun giving up two bombs. I think the fans had a good time. I’m sure the guys that took me deep did, too.”

You can watch his pitching here:


May 23, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Boxer's Father/Trainer Unable to Get Visa for a Major Fight in Australia


Earlier this year, Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic was unable to defend his 2021 title after the Australian government canceled his visa.  The nation has a long history of tough immigration enforcement.  For a look at Austrlian's contemporary immigration policies, click here.

Now the Australian government has failed to issue a visa in connection with a major sporting event.  WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney’s father/trainer Bill Haney has been denied entrance into Australia for him to work his son’s fight against the undefeated George Kambosos Jr. on June 5 in Melbourne. Bill says he has been denied entrance into Australia because of a 1992 drug conviction.  

As a result, Bill Haney will not be working Devin Haney’s corner for fight against Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs)

“I did some mistakes at 22, 23-years-old that Devin is now that hopefully, he’ll never have to make the mistakes,” said Bill Haney to Trill Boxing Talk. 



May 22, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Immigrant of the Day: Bismack Biyombo (Democractic Republic of the Congo)

Bismack Biyombo was born in Zaire, a country now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is an NBA player currently with the Phoenix Suns. He began his hoops career in Spain and previously played for the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets, Toronto Raptors, and Orlando Magic.

Biyombo has dedicated his entire season's salary -- all 1.3 million dollars -- to building a hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He hopes to honor the memory of his father, who passed away from Covid in 2021.


April 19, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Critiques of Chinese naturalized athletes and citizenship switching at Olympics

Chinese athletes have been in the headlines during the Winter Olympics being hosted in Beijing. A prior ImmigrationProf blog post highlighted Eileen Gu, a biracial Chinese American skiier who renounced her US citizen to compete for China, winning gold. She has been greeted with enthusiasm in both the US and China. The mirror image of Gu has been presented in the experience of Zhu Yi, a California-born figure skater who competed for China, but fell in competition and did not medal. 

China has actively recruited athletes of Chinese descent to compete for China in sports where they have historically struggled. It has raised questions and sometimes ignited fierce debates on social media. The reception has been worsened by "a lack of official explanations of how the naturalized athletes fit within the Chinese legal system or the future of its national team. China does not recognize dual citizenship, and conservatives strongly oppose any relaxation of the country’s strict immigration laws", says a Washington Post columnist. The article quotes a Beijing sports commentator, Sean Wang, saying:

“Naturalized athletes are a shortcut — a contingency plan — for the host country to catch up and improve performance in a particular field.” 

Naturalization is common across competitive sports in many countries, and Americans have competed for the countries of their parents in prior instances. However, the practice is relatively new in China, according to historian Susan Brownell (her prior writing on "citizenship switching" among athletes in Olympics here).


February 13, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Refugee Olympic Team at 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing?



The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing started this weekend.  I have been unsuccessfully scouring the internet looking for some mention of the International Olympic Committee Refugee Team, composed of refugees from around the world.  At last year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, a global audience was inspired by the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.  The team represented the 84 million forcibly displaced people worldwide.

The Refugee Team made its debut at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Ten athletes qualified for the 2016 Olympics. 29 refugee athletes participated in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. 

There has been commentary about the tension between the IOC fielding a refugee team and holding the Olympics in China, with its human rights record.  But where is the Refugee Team at the Winter Olympics?


February 6, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 23, 2022

"I feel Chinese in China and American in America": Elieen Gu, Olympic Skier

Eileen Gu, a dual Chinese and US citizen, will compete in the Olympics in freestyle skiing Team China. She made the decision a few years ago, explaining on Instagram that it was a chance to “inspire millions of young people where my mom was born” and “promote the sport I love.” At the time, she also told Inkstone that she hoped that her skiing would “unite two nations, both of which are my home.”

Gu, now 18, speaks fluent English and Mandarin. Her mother, Yan Gu, is a native of Beijing and was keen to imprint Chinese culture and values on her daughter after migrating from China to the U.S. Despite being born and raised in San Francisco, Gu has a claim to Chinese citizenship through her mother.

A more comprehensive profile of Gu as an athlete can be found on Redbull, her sponsor for the Olympics and the host for Everyday Eileen.  Her key events are Halfpipe, Slopestyle and Big Air. In January 2021, Gu became the first Chinese athlete to win X Games gold, and the first woman to win three X Games medals as a rookie. After her debut at X Games 2021, Gu went on to earn Slopestyle gold, Halfpipe gold and Big Air bronze at the Aspen 2021 World Championships.

Eileen Gu


January 23, 2022 in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 14, 2022

Visa revoked again, Djokovic faces deportation

Breaking news from down under.  The Associated Press reports that tennis star Novak Djokovic's immigration saga continues.  He now

" faces deportation again after the Australian government revoked his visa for a second time, the latest twist in the ongoing saga over whether the No. 1-ranked tennis player will be allowed to compete in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said . . .  he used his ministerial discretion to cancel [Djokovic's] visa on public interest grounds — just three days before play begins at the Australian Open, where Djokovic has won a record nine of his 20 Grand Slam titles."

The case is not over and Djokovic is expected to appeal the visa revocation.


January 14, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Boston Celtic Changes Name to Freedom, calls becoming U.S. citizen ‘unforgettable’




At the end of 2021, Kyle Hightower for the Associated Press reported that a National Basketball Association Boston Celtics player changed his name from Enes Kanter to Enes Kanter Freedom in celebration of him officially becoming a United States citizen. He told AP that taking the citizenship oath was “maybe the most unforgettable moment that I had in my life.” An immigrant from Turkey, he has been an outspoken critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish government.

NPR recently interviewed Freedom about why he changed his name and his support for a boycott of the Olympics in China.


January 13, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 10, 2022

Australian Court Grants Tennis Champion Novak Djokovic Visa Appeal


Breaking News!  An Australian court granted Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic his visa appeal, which he filed after the government rejected his entry papers over an allegedly inadmissible medical vaccine exemption. The judge’s decision reverses the government’s cancellation of his visa and allows the star to compete in the 2022 Australian Open next week, where he will defend his 2021 title.

Djokovic did not have a COVID vaccination but argued that he had immunity from prior infection that qualified as a legitimate medical exemption to the vaccination requirement. He claimed he tested positive, court documents show, but did not experience symptoms. Australian medical authorities ruled that a temporary pass of entry can be provided to applicants who had contracted the virus within six months.

For more details, click the link above.


UPDATE (Jan. 11):  Sophie McNeill for Human Rights Watch in "Djokovic Case Highlights Australia’s Cruel Immigration Policies" comments on the implications of the Djokovic ruling:

"While the world number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic, spent four nights detained at an immigration hotel in Melbourne before a judge ordered his release, his case became a jolting reminder of Australia’s abusive treatment of refugees and asylum seekers who have been held in the country’s immigration detention system for years.

Since July 2013 the Australian government has forcibly transferred more than 3,000 asylum seekers and refugees to offshore camps in the countries of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they suffered severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and medical neglect. The human toll of these cruel policies has been huge. Children in offshore camps, whom a team of pediatricians described as among the most traumatized they had ever seen, stopped speaking and wanted to end their lives."


January 10, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Australia cancels tennis champion's visa to enter country


CNN reports that "Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic may not be able to defend his 2021 title after his visa to enter Australia was canceled, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in an on-camera interview . . . ." Djokovic "failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements for Australia and visa has been subsequently canceled," he said.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion traveled to Melbourne after receiving a medical exemption to play in the tournament. But he is reportedly being held at the airport after applying for a visa that does not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated.

Stay tuned!



January 5, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Immigrant of the Day: Luis Ortiz (Professional Boxer), Cuba


Luis (King Kong) Ortiz left Cuba on a small boat in the hopes of securing medical care for his daughter.  He had an accomplished amateur boxing career in Cuba.  Now residing in Miami, Ortiz is a top flight professional heavyweight boxer. 

On a New Year's Day pay per view, Ortiz survived two knockdowns to score a sixth-round stoppage of Charles Martin in a fight at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida. Click here for a boxing bio of Ortiz and information about the fight.


January 2, 2022 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 8, 2021

Cuban-born players make history in American League MLB Playoffs


It is baseball playoffs time.  The MLB website reports that the American League Division Series between the Astros and the White Sox has a playoff record for Cuban-born players.  "For the first time in postseason history, six Cubans are playing in the same October series. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time that six Cubans appeared in a game, and that number could go up to seven if Aledmys Díaz plays for Houston."

José AbreuYoán MoncadaYasmani GrandalLuis RobertYuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez rounded out the Cuban talent that kicked off Game 1 of the ALDS between the White Sox and Astros yesterday.


The Astros won the opened 6-1.


October 8, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 9, 2021

Tokyo Olympics Close, Great Stories (and Some Immigration Ones)


The Tokyo Olympics ended yesterday.  It had many great stories, including gymnast Suni Lee's gold medal (and here).  It also had some great immigration stories, including the second Olympic Refugee Team, Poland providing sanctuary to a sprinter from Belarus. and DACA recipient Luis Grijalva at the last minute able to make it to Tokyo to compete in the 5K for his native country of Guatemala (finishing 12th and setting a new Guatemalan record).

Sally Ho for the Associated Press reports on another Olympics story that should not be forgotten.  Surfer Carissa Moore (and here) won the first Olympic gold medalist in surfing’s Olympics debut. Carissa's mother  had given her a flower hair clip before she left for Tokyo to remind the only Native Hawaiian Olympic surfer of where she came from.  Moore is still in disbelief when she's compared to Duke Kahanamoku, the godfather of modern surfing who is  memorialized in Hawaii with a cherished monument.



August 9, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Immigration at the Olympics: Poland Grants Visa to Belarus Olympian


ImmigrationProf has blogged on immigration stories from to the Tokyo Olympics, including the exploits of Gold Medal winner Suni Lee, the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics, and the Refugee Olympic Team.

Graham Dunbar for Time reports on a different type of immigration story.  On Monday, Poland granted a visa to a Belarusian Olympic sprinter who said she feared for her safety and that her team’s officials tried to force her to fly home. A group that is helping athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya told The Associated Press that it bought her a plane ticket to Warsaw. The current standoff began after Tsimanouskaya criticized how officials were managing her team — setting off a backlash in state-run media back home. The runner said on her Instagram account that she was put in the 4×400 relay even though she has never raced in the event.

Tsimanouskaya was slated to fly to Poland today.  Security concerns reportedly resulted in her taking a flight to Austria.


August 4, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Japanese American swimmer Erica Sullivan wins silver, says she is "epitome of the American person"

Erica Sullivan is a Japanese-American swimmer and won silver in the 1,500 meter freestyle, finishing behind her USA teammate Katie Ledecky. Sullivan told reporters after the event that she is familiar with Japan and fluent in Japanese, having visited family in Japan many times while growing up with a mother who is a Japanese citizen and U.S. green card holder.

"It's just awesome that I get to do this and really set a landmark for women and also get to do it in Japan where I have half my famly."

In her press conference, Sullivan spoke in fluent Japanese to reporters about her upbringing and training as well as her pride in being ethnically Japanese and representing the LGBTQ+ community. She remarked that she feels like the "epitome of the American person" to be "on the podium, in Japan, as an Asian American woman whose mother is not a U.S. citizen. Her grandfather served as an architect on some of the Olympic venues in Japan. She also remarked that she is proud to win in a historical women’s event for the first time as someone who "likes women" and identifies as being gay. Her parting repartee: "I'm multicultural. I'm queer. I'm a lot of minorities. That's what America is."

Her inspiring press conference can be watched here.

Erica sullivan


July 29, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

US Gymnast Suni Lee at Olympics


BREAKING NEWS [and spoiler alerts]

The US Gymnastics team came into the Olympic competition with strong odds to win. The team was led by Simone Biles, the US all-around gold medalist in the 2016 Olympics who has dominated the sport and bcome known as G.O.A.T. (greatest of al time). The second spot on the team went to a newcomer, Sunisa Lee (a.k.a. Suni), who is the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics. She is 18-years old and at 15-years old had barely become eligible for senior competition when she placed in the US championships that would qualify her for Olympic competition. Lee secured second place at the Olympic trials and qualified to compete in beam, uneven bars, and the all-around. Olympic watchers know that this week she contributed to a silver medal team-award for Team USA at the Olympics. This morning she went on to win the gold medal in the individual all-around. 

There will be significant media coverage in light of her Olympic achievements and her heroic floor routine, delivered unexpectedly for the team competition after her teammate Biles withdrew from competition. But her back story is even more inspiring. Lee is Hmong American and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. Lee's athletic success shows the commitment of her family and her Hmong community. In a Time Magazine profile story, the Athletic Director at her high school Koua Yang said:

It’s exceptional to see this kind of investment in young women in particular, says Yang. “I’ve coached Hmong women for many years and I’ve had to beg their parents to let them play. For an athlete like Suni and her family to break out of that is incredible because it takes so much support.

Her parents, John Lee and Yee Thoj, were refugees and live in the largest resettled community of Hmong outside of Laos, in Minnesota. The Hmong people fought on the side of the US in the Vietnam War, having been recruited by the CIA for a military operation in Laos dubbed the Secret War, and then fled persecution when the communist government retaliated against them -- first to refugee camps in neighboring countries like Thailand and subsequently to the US. A story map of Hmong refugee migration describes the history of the 18 Hmong clans, and the Minnesota Historical society has a detailed timeline of their exodus. According to the 2010 US census, 260,000 Hmong now live in the US and 60,000 of them live in Minnesota near the Twin Cities.

Hmong mgiration - large

When she was young, Lee's father took her to the gym and built a make-shift beam out of lumber scrap so that she could practice in her backyard. Like the majority of Hmong families, they live modestly. (Nearly 60% of Hmong Americans are low-income and more than a quarter meet the definition of poverty.)  Her community has rallied around her rising star for years, raising money for the training, equipment, and travel required for competitive gymnastics and encouraging her to do it for herself, her family, and their heritage. She has become well known and well loved, an inspiration for many of the younger athletes who have grown up watching her compete on TV and become the first Hmong American athlete to go to the Olympics.

Her Olympic scores are summarized on NBC's Olympic website and sports media coverage will comb over her other record-breaking feats. (More sports spoilers described therein, so I'll let you read them yourself!)


July 29, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

DACA Recipient Allowed to go to the Olympics


ImmigrationProf has some immigration news.  Sports Illustrated reports that Luis Grijalva, who finished second in the men's 5,000-meter final at the NCAA track and field championships and did well enough to realize a dream of his and qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.  He hoped to competing for home country of Guatemala.   And he will after ironing out some immigration issues.

Grijalva, a student at Northern Arizona University, came to the U.S. from Guatemala when he was just 1 year old, and has lived here ever since. He's a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient.  As a DACA recipient, Grijalva needed a special permit to leave the country and return.  He got it on Monday.  

After receiving his advanced reentry document, he's going to be allowed to leave the country in pursuit of his dreams, his agent announced.


July 27, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 26, 2021

The Olympics' refugee team is a 'symbol of hope' in Tokyo.


The Olympics in Tokyo has been dominating the news.  29 stateless athletes are hoping to raise awareness of the more than 80 million forcibly displaced people around the world as part of the Refugee Olympic Team.  It is the second refugee team in history, Biwa Kwan reports for SBS World News. The first Refugee Team competed at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. 

CNN reported that an Iranian taekwondo athlete competing for the Refugee Olympic Team made her mark at Tokyo 2020 after she defeated two-time Olympic gold medalist Jade Jones.  Kimia Alizadeh beat Team Great Britain's Jones 16-12 on Sunday in the women's -57kg taekwondo round of 16.  She then overcame China's Lijun Zhou in the quarterfinals before losing to Turkey's Hatice Kubra Ilgun in the bronze medal match.  Had Alizadeh won that match she'd have secured the Refugee Olympic Team's first ever medal since its creation in 2016.

Go Olympic Refugee Team!


July 26, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Immigrant of the Day Leads Milwaukee Bucks to NBA Championship


Two time Immigrant of the Day, National Basketball Association superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) is now an NBA champion!

Read about the "Greek Freak's" amazing immigration story, which began as follows:

"In December 1994, Giannis Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, Greece, to Nigerian immigrants. His parents arrived in the country without legal status in search of better employment opportunities. While in Greece, Giannis’ family faced the dual threats of potential deportation back to Nigeria and anti-immigrant attitudes within Greek society. 

As a teenager, Giannis avoided going out at night for fear of being attacked by members of Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party responsible for numerous assaults on immigrants."

Earlier this week, Giannis scored 50 points, earned the NBA Finals' Most Valuable Player, and led the Bucks to an NBA championship by defeating the Phoenix Suns.

Formerly stateless, Antetokounmpo is now on top of the NBA world.


July 22, 2021 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)