Canelo Alvarez immortalizes the Teotihuacan culture

The successful legacy of Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez has an echo that goes back to the millenary culture of Teotihuacán, a connection that is possible thanks to the work of creative minds and hands originating from the Valley of Mexico.

Teotihuacan culture is the symbol that appears on the belt that ‘Canelo’ won during his last fight on November 6, against Caleb Plant, with which he became the first Mexican boxer to unify the four titles of the super middleweight category: before the World Boxing Council (WBC), the Organization (OMB), the Association (WBA) and the International Federation (FIB).

The designers of said belt, the brothers Topacio and Gerardo Cuevas, explained to El Economista how the whole procedure was born until reaching the gloves of the champion, who posed Teotihuacan figures like the feathered serpent before the eyes of the world.

“The belt is a piece that the Secretary of Culture and Tourism of the State of Mexico requested from us, it has been very aware of what we have been doing in Taller Obsidiana (its design firm) even for other projects, there is a lot of communication and for that’s what the project was assigned to us. We are originally from the Teotihuacán Valley and it was a very specific assignment that the belt had to represent the Teotihuacan culture, ”explains Topacio, an architect with a specialty in interior design.

Taller Obsidiana is backed by eight years of productions in which they have even collaborated with Tane, the jeweler that makes the Formula 1 trophies for the Mexico City Grand Prix. In addition, the Cuevas family has three generations and almost a century dedicated to the work of obsidian stone and in 2019 they opened their boutique store, where they have more than 50 brands of Mexican design with materials such as clay, glass and textiles.

After receiving the belt assignment almost three months in advance, they had two weeks to submit three design proposals: the first, based on the deity of Quetzalcóatl; the second, in Tlaloc; and the third in a Teotihuacan mask. In the end, both the Secretary of Culture and Tourism of the State of Mexico and the World Box Council (CMB) decided that it should be the first.

“We decided to put the most important elements of the Teotihuacan culture, where there are many deities, but the main ones are the pyramid of the sun and the moon and Quetzalcóatl. We began to document the materials that the Teotihuacanos used in their ornamentation and decoration and we found that they were mainly obsidian and jade and we used both. Then we place feathered serpents giving entrance to the central part of the belt, while on the sides there are several rhombuses that form a mesh that has two purposes: to make the graphic of the Teotihuacan murals found in the valley and to simulate the skin of the feathered serpent ” , describe the Cuevas brothers.

The manufacturing process lasted approximately 10 weeks and three artisans and the Cuevas brothers participated as designers for the manufacture of 40 pieces, although the assembly was carried out in the Cleto-Reyes brand workshop, where they added leather, hardware, silver and an engraving with a signature, which posed ‘Canelo’ along with a crown, a knockout and a 40 million dollar purse.

“With everything Canelo won, it is already an invaluable belt, it is a trophy that has traveled many places and has already won, it no longer has a (monetary) value, it surpassed that. How can you assess a piece like this in which the efforts of the athlete and the event organizers are behind? ”, The brothers highlight when asked about the value of the belt, although they mention that they did receive a payment from the Secretariat of Culture and Tourism of the State of Mexico for this work.

Gerardo Cuevas, with professional training as a publicist designer, points out that making the ‘Canelo’ Álvarez belt is the highest step they have reached in these eight years and the almost 100 in his family’s legacy, but it prepares them to give the next step whether in sports or other industries. He also sees it as an important impulse for the Teotihuacan culture and the development of the obsidian stone.

“10 years ago obsidian was a synonym of craftsmanship that was only found in Teotihuacán, but now, fortunately, it is also added to design, recognition, involved in sports and that helps a lot to strengthen and grow, to turn to see artisans as sources of income. It is an evolution like the Huichol, which only lived in a niche and is now known worldwide, relationships like that of ‘Canelo’ open the door to obsidian because sport is a perfect channel for more people in the world to meet it and not it is not even 10% exploited in design ”.

It should be noted that the WBC has nine editions of using belts with Mexican cultures such as the Huichol or Mazahua, but now it was the Teotihuacan’s turn to be part of one of the most important achievements in the history of Mexican sport.

Since 1988, when it began to be possible to unify titles in the four governing bodies of boxing, only five boxers had achieved it and none were Latin American, until Saúl Álvarez arrived in the 168-pound category, where he has a record of 57 victories and 39 of them by knockout.


Leave a Comment