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Girls just want to have fun(ds): La Maya

6 October 2008

One reason I’ve cut back on posting is that I’m supposed to be working on a history of Mazatlan.  The problem I’ve been having is that the local histories are full of dull, respectable types… and they’re so frigging boring.  This town was founded by pirates and cut-thoats and only really took off when they could skin the gringos during the California gold rush (our cartels and time-share touts are heirs to a venerable tradition around these parts). Alas, the local historians tend to write more about dull German brewers and bankers and generals… and, naturally, I prefer the rouges.

Though, you do find, from time to time, a respectable person worth writing about.  This is, of course, only a draft, and copyright © 2008, Editorial Mazatlan, all rights reserved.

UntitledAlthough the “Great Depression” of 1929 affected Mazatlan just as it did everywhere else, the real blow to the economy came on 23 March 1933 with the passage of the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, repealing liquor prohibition. Mazatlan had profited from the “noble experiment” – two of the city’s most profitable industries – smuggling and brewing – were hit hard. Times were tough. Margareta Montes Plata was tougher. As a ringer on the Cerveceria Diaz de Leon women’s baseball team, Margarita’s ten pesos per game helped get her family though the tough times, but weren’t enough.

With nothing but a strong pitching arm (which she attributed to a childhood spent making tortillas by hand and wielding a machete on the family farm) was desperate to find some source of income. What was then the Teatro Rubio (today’s Angelina Peralta) was desperate for any kind of act that would bring in a paying crowd. When woman boxer Josefina Coronada offered to put on an exhibition match, who knew it would be the start of one of the more amazing careers in the history of women’s sports?

The amateur trained for a month, won the bout and Margarita, fighting under the name “La Maya” boxed throughout Mexico and the United States, fighting 28 men and 5 women (she said “I prefer to fight men, they punch better”) before her early retirement in 1936.

La Maya’s only real problem with boxing had been the presumption that a women boxer was not lady-like. One Mazatlan parrandaro (a guy hanging out) probably wished he hadn’t told her one day that she wasn’t a “real woman.” she knocked him out.

And she was a proper Mexican lady. Her retirement from the ring came when, after marrying bullfighter Jose Valdez, she was expecting her first baby. For some reason, her obstetrician thought boxing might interfere with pre-natal care.

He said nothing about bullfighting. Say what one will about bullfighting, matadors from racial minorities, matadoras and openly gay matadors have been part of the sport for centuries before other professional sports. But, with a growing family – she would eventually have five children – and the bullring circuit requiring too much time away from home, she settled for the less exciting world of bicycle racing.

Widowed in 1961, and starting to feel her own age, she took up truck driving for several years. Rather than retire, she bought a gasoline station with her grandsons, continuing to take an active part in the business well into her late eighties.


10 Comments leave one →
  1. Alain Valdez permalink
    17 October 2008 10:09 pm

    hola preguntaba por alguien que tuviera fotos de La Maya, pues en realidad tengo demasiadas, jejeje, soy su nieto, es decir ella con orgullo puedo decir , que soy su nieto. Si se encuentra interesado en conocer algunas de sus fotografias se las podria facilitar, espero su respuesta, y muchas gracias por publicar este articulo tan presiado para mi.

    • George Beu permalink
      12 May 2009 2:13 pm

      Hola Alain,

      Me gustaría hablar contigo sobre las fotos de tu abuela. Favor de escribirme a


    • Rigo Garcia Velasco permalink
      22 August 2013 3:02 pm

      Hola Alain, soy Rigo, hijo de Rigoberto Garcia (Chito), sobrino de tu abuela. Me gustaría poder contactarte. Estoy recabando información de la Maya para un proyecto. Te dejo mi correo:

  2. Juan hernandez permalink
    14 June 2009 8:47 pm

    hola Alain, me gustaria mucho poder platicar contigo, yo conoci a tu abuela y tuve la fortuna de platicar con ella en varias ocaciones, fue vecina de un gran amigo mio que escribio un pequeño libro sobre su vida, ahora yo estoy en la idea de hacer un documental sobre su vida, me gustaria incluirte y ademas ver la posibilidad de ver el material que tienes de ella y que pudiera servir para hacer el mejor homenaje de lo que fue esta gran mujer…espero puedas leer esto pronto y podamos ponernos en contacto este es mi numero de cell: 66 91 01 00 57

  3. uri permalink
    1 July 2009 4:51 pm

    ke pedo pinche alainn…aki nomas acordandome de la inigualable MAYA…tu ke onda espero ke contestes…cuidate mucho carnal..estamos en contacto…un abrazo

  4. Diane Margarita Mendez Davila permalink
    24 February 2010 9:33 pm

    Good Evening,
    I have an article and photograph of my aunt. I am the daughter of Raymond James Mendez in the United States. My grandmother was Mary Mendez.

    • la nana permalink
      11 May 2011 6:08 pm

      soy yoly la “nana” hija de juanita montes en paz descanse, hermana de “la maya” en paz descanse tambien saludos desde sonora, soy hermana de rigoberto, gilberto y victor, saludos a raymon

  5. yoly permalink
    8 May 2011 6:31 pm

    raymond soy la nana hija de tu tia juanita montes en paz descanse, desde mexico
    soy hermana de rioberto el chito y gilerto,
    saludos desde aca

  6. Francisco permalink
    8 March 2012 9:56 am

    Soy un admirador de esta mujer y ojalá se pugne por hacer un documental muy bien hecho que tenga difusión a nivel internacional, no por ser solamente de Mazatlan, si no por lo que represento lo que hacia desde esos años, esfuerzo, pundonor y compromiso con la familia, desafortunadamente poco puedo hacer al respecto, pero ojalá logren algo de esto.

  7. 15 March 2012 11:56 pm

    mi mama bertha plata ere prima hermana de la senora Maya es un orgullo para nosotros y hojala que se publique mas sobre la historia de mi tia

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