Luisa 'Lucha' Fuentes: An athlete to know

Luisa "Lucha" Fuentes is a six-time South American champion, and two-time Olympian.

Luisa 'Lucha' Fuentes: An athlete to know

Luisa "Lucha" Fuentes (1948) is a legendary Peruvian volleyball player, six-time South American champion, and two-time Olympian.

“Fuentes will be eternally associated with the origins of competitive volleyball,” writes Abelardo Sánchez-León in The History of Peruvian Women’s Volleyball.

Luisa was born in Ica, Peru on August 19, 1948 and in 1962, the father of Peru women’s volleyball, Akira Kato, noticed her. Fellow volleyball player Pilancho Jiménez said that Akira revolutionized volleyball and one of the principals was Luisa.

By 1965, Luisa had been invited by the volleyball federation to become part of the national team. She said it was hard to leave everyone she knew to move from Ica to the capital, Lima, but it was worth it. She said she learned to persevere and be disciplined, and it’s where she set the foundation to eventually become a Peruvian icon.

In the 1960s and 1970s, she met and maintained major success across South America. From 1967 to 1979, her teams won six South American Championships and finished with silver once. During those same years, she won silver medals at four Pan American games.

In 1968, Lucha competed in the second Olympics that included women’s volleyball, and her team finished fourth. She also competed in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

She retired in 1979 and the team celebrated her during a friendly match against Japan. She received a standing ovation and is still considered a Peruvian legend and icon.

In 1988, Peru finished with the silver medal at the Seoul Olympic Games. Luisa and Akira Kato set the foundation.

Years later, Fuentes would tell local news that people would come up to her and thank her for all that she did, and want to talk with and hug her.

“I like it because I feel that everything I did is not in vain,” she said in 2019.

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Learn more about Lucha Fuentes:

The Black history of Peru women’s volleyball

En honor a Lucha Fuentes (in Spanish)

Related: Afro-Peruvian women’s experiences as congress representatives (thesis)

Homenaje de despedida a Lucha Fuentes - Partido amistoso entre Perú vs. Japón 1979 (match)

Lucha Fuentes, leyenda del vóley peruano: el documental que le rinde homenaje, tras sobrevivir a un ACV 5 Minutos - Lucha Fuentes (video in Spanish)