The name Matias de Llano, Sr. holds a venerable place in the heart of the Latin American International Sports Hall of Fame.

If there were any one individual who truly personified the word “international”, it would be De Llano, a prominent civic leader who contributed much to the success of different programs for the betterment of the Laredo community. Born in Monterrey, Mexico young Matias came to Laredo to learn the English language while across the Rio Grande River the Mexican Revolution raged from 1910 to 1917.

A hardworking business visionary, by 1923, he owned a Mexican import business (The Mexican Products Company) and had started The Texas Harvest Hat Company which later became the world’s largest exporter of hats. De Llano was one of South Texas most influential citizens and business leaders during the era between World War I and World War II and was the one who promoted different cultural programs including the Mexican Village now known as the Lulacs Noche Mexicana.

No other single event in Laredo brings more publicity over a period of days to the Gateway City then the Border Olympics. This annual track and field meet held in early March was initiated by a group of business leaders spearheaded by De Llano. Joining Matias on the first Olympic committee were Furney Muller, Manuel Cavazos Jr., Felipe Garcia Moreno, Luis Avila and high school coach Shirley DaCamara. (Matias is the first of the “Super Six” founders to be inducted into the Latin Hall), others will follow. These group was commissioned by the George Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association to initiate an international track and field meet with participants from Texas and Mexico. The event was to be called “The Frontier Olympics” and become a part of the celebration activities in 1933.

Three years later, it was separated from the festivities and renamed the International Border Olympics later shortened to Border Olympics. The first Olympics were an open meet with major universities and colleges competing in the Senior Division. The Junior Division had local and area high schools. For years, the Border Olympics was known all over the United States as the first outdoor track and field meet with colleges and universities coming to Laredo from such states as Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana and the country of Mexico. Years later, golf, tennis, baseball and basketball tournaments were added to the competition. Participants in golf and track and field have included a list of “Who’s, Who” in each sport including world class athletes and World Olympic winners in track such as sprinter Bobby Morrow of Abilene Christian and shot putter Randy Matson from Texas A & M. Golf stars include Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite, among others. Aside from the “Super Six” Border Olympics founders, prominent Laredoans and South Texans have contributed to the success of this sporting event.

Excerpt from 2013 Inductees Program

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Proposed museum location is downtown Laredo, Texas, intersection, Farragut at Juarez Ave.