Whenever our writers are assigned stories involving Spanish-speaking personalities, they ask for an assist from Senior Reporter Angel Reyes. The latest case in point is Staff Writer Jack McCallum's piece in this issue on the Edwin Rosario-Jose Luis Ramirez fight, which begins on page 58. "Without Angel," says McCallum, "this would have been an assignment imposible, and I don't mean just because I can't speak Spanish." Senior Writer Pat Putnam agrees, saying, "Angel understands boxing, and he understands people." After Puerto Rico's Wilfred Benitez lost his super welterweight title to Thomas Hearns last December in New Orleans, Benitez' father thanked Reyes for being there, and the family invited him to their hotel room.
Born in Puerto Rico, Reyes came to New York City in 1952, when he was five. Between Spanish at home and English at school, he quickly became bilingual, but when he took an interest in literature, during a 1966-70 tour of duty as an Air Force mechanic, he focused on American authors. When Reyes wasn't examining the innards of cargo planes in Vietnam or Thailand, he was immersing himself in Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck and Sherwood Anderson. He came to SI in 1970, starting, appropriately enough, in the library, and became a reporter in 1973. His love of literature, along with his double-stacked office bookshelf, has never stopped growing.
"Tell me about it," says his wife, Nilda. "His closet is half clothes and half books in boxes. We've got some in storage. I don't know where he picks them up."
Reyes first used his Spanish to assist Senior Writer Ron Fimrite on a story about Cuban baseball in 1976. He interviewed jockeys for an article about race fixes in 1978—"Cuidado" (be careful), warned one—and, as our soccer reporter, assisted Clive Gammon at last year's World Cup in Spain.
May 8, 1983
Before the first Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran fight, then Staff Writer Bill Nack, who has a modest knowledge of Spanish, sensed that the official translations of Duran's comments to the press weren't all they should have been. He and Reyes then did their own interview, and, says Nack, "I could see that Duran was responding to Angel. Duran said things, in Spanish, that I'd never heard him say before, and for the first time I had a feeling for Duran as a person." Reyes has an opinion about the two most famous words, no màs, that Duran ever spoke: "To Duran—to most Latinos—boxing is a serious art form, not something to make fun of. It was Leonard's clowning that he said 'no more' to. He was saying, 'If you want to win it that way, you can have it.' "