Meet Angel Matos: Taekwondo's Original Hard Man

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IAugust 23, 2008

Who is Angel Matos?

You may ask the question to someone who is unfamiliar with taekwondo, and responses might be along the lines of, "Never heard of him," to, "Who's that?" or more low-brow varieties such as, "Simple. Your mom!"

But if you ask the question to someone who follows the sports, and keeps track of champions at every division, the answer might come in the form of, "Oh, I know who you're talking about. You, grasshopper, are talking about taekwondo's original hard man."

Angel Matos from Cuba is a fierce, if stubborn, specimen of a fighter. At 31-years of age and an imposing 80 kilos, Matos posseses to power to deliver a facial that can be rivaled only by Antonio Noguera, and the best Muay Thais fighters on the circuit. Matos' keen ability to strike an umpire after being disqualified is what makes this man special.

Yang Jin-Suk, the president of the World Taekwondo Federation, had high praises for Matos: "He is insult to the Olympic vision, an insult to the spirit of taekwondo and, in my opinion, an insult to mankind." It's flattering, and fitting.

Forget his gold in Sydney, or his Pan-American ascendancy in Rio de Janeiro last year. Angel Matos' performance at the Beijing Olympics this year is one to remember...if you love officials getting their comeuppance.

The highlight in his match with Arman Chilmanov of Kazakhstan was not during the match...but after the match. Poor Chakir Chelbat, match judge, was no match for Matos. His blood-drawing strike elicited howls of disapproval. But were they howls of disapproval, or howls of approval disguised as howls of disapproval?

No one knows for sure. But after his coach, Leudis Gonzales, hinted of a match fix during what could be the end of Matos's career—in taekwondo, at least—it can be certain that Cuba's fallen [sic] Angel will leave Beijing, riding into the sunset with the epithet of "Taekwondo's Original Hard Man."