Beijing Olympics 2008: The Family That Fights Together, Wins Together

Known as the "First Family of Taekwondo" the Lopez's are set to make history in Beijing at the summer Olympics. The siblings, Steven, 29 years old, Mark, 25 years old, and Diana, 23 years old, have been involved in the martial arts since their family immigrated to the USA from Nicaragua in 1972. Their dad always had a respect for the martial arts and enrolled oldest brother Jean in a taekwondo school. Jean went on to become a two-time Pan American Champion and a silver medalist at the world championships. Over the years he became a mentor and coach for his younger siblings. Now, they are the first family to compete together in the Olympic Games since 1904.

Named one of People magazine's Hottest Bachelor's in 2004, Steven Lopez is easy on the eyes, but that's not the only reason to watch him compete. Widely regarded as the best competitive taekwondo fighter in the world, Steven, (already an Olympic gold medalist two times over) has lived up to his reputation by winning every match he has fought since 2002. Steven says that this year has been a dream for him and that he made his younger siblings his priority, "Going into the 2008 Olympics, the dream was for all three of us to make it so I was everything and anything Diana and Mark needed me to be, from a masseuse, to a cheer leader, to a water boy... After they made it, I was ecstatic, this is a dream come true for me."

It's been a little bit rougher for Diana. As the baby of the family she endured relentless teasing at the hands of her older brothers. "I think it's been the toughest for her, to be the princess, the little sister, but also having three older brothers who picked on her a lot as she was growing up," admits Steven. But Diana sees all the attention from her siblings as positive. She credits training with boys and world class caliber sparring matches for her mental and physical strength. "It was fun growing up with them," says Diana, "They did pick on me a lot but I have strong skin because of it. Now I can go anywhere knowing that I am strong and tough."

Mark is known as the showman of the family, or "Hollywood" as Diana affectionately calls him. Known for his celebratory back flips and blowing kisses to the crowd, he is regularly a fan favorite. But Mark also packs a formidable punch and recently won silver at the Pan Am games.

As for Jean, he's just soaking it all in, "I think you have a better chance of winning the lotto than having something like this happen."

Steven echoes the sentiment and emphasizes how appreciative he is to be sharing the experience with his family, "Just having my brother as my coach and my siblings as my teammates, no matter what part of the world I’m in, it always feels like we have the home advantage."

We'll be watching the Lopez's on the road to glory at this summer's Olympics in Beijing.  Mark and Diana are both scheduled to fight in their respective Featherweight divisions on Thursday, August 21st. Steven will be fighting the man he beat in the Athens' final, Turkey's Bahri Tanrikulu in the first round of his quest for gold in the Welterweight division this Friday, August 20th.


Click here to check out or slide show of notable Latino athletes to watch this summer, plus updates on how they have done in each of their events! 

For more on these athletes, a full schedule of the Games and live streaming video visit www.NBCOlympics.com

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About this author1

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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