AUSTRALIA’S rugby league season will start like never before this Saturday – with an Aztec war cry paying homage to the jaguar.
In a story almost too bizarre to be true, a Mexican boilermaker who lives in Western Australia is set to entrench his cult status in international rugby league, delivering a spine-tingling war chant to a bumper crowd at Brisbane’s Bishop Park.
And viewers around the world will be able to watch the performance – a prelude to the Magellan Trophy between Latin America and the Philippines – live on the internet at www.latinheatrl.com
Leading the Latino’s own version of the haka will be Grantito Chacone, the son of an immigrant from Chiapas, Mexico. Not only is Chacone a strike-weapon for the Latinos on the field, but he has also become the team’s spiritual heart and an unlikely celebrity of sorts.
With Mexico this year starting its own domestic rugby league competition, the nation has adopted Chacone as the code’s pin-up boy following his international debut for the GYG Latin Heat against Thailand last June.
“Getting dubbed by them as the Mexican Sonny Bill Williams was a bit extreme, but if it helps promote the sport back there, I’m glad to play along,” says Chacone, raised in Goodna, Queensland, but now a resident of Mandurah, WA.
“I just laugh and say that I’m twice as ugly and five times more broke, with 500 times less skill.”
Chacone won acclaim in his international debut when he dislocated two toes on his first touch of the ball, only to sit on the sideline with his boot in his mouth and snap them back into position so he could play on.
It’s wasn’t exactly a rare show of grit from the 33-year-old, who is also an instructor in Brazilian jiu jitsu, judo and silat, and boasts a strong background in boxing and kickboxing.
Yet rather than use his fists this Saturday, it will be his unique war chant – practised proudly and painstakingly – that will provide the call to arms to his Latino brothers.
“In Nahuatl (Aztec) it is called ‘Yaoyotl Och Acelotl’…the war chant of the jaguar,” Chacone proudly says.
“As far as I know this will be the first time on Australian soil this war cry has been done in aggression before battle.
“When you perform the cry you are taunting the enemy. You are telling them this will be their last fight and they should give up now.
“I did the war cry at work and my supervisor said to me ‘Mate, I’ve watched Samoans, Tongans and Maoris do their war chants and, to be honest, this is just as intimidating. You made a tingle up my spine’.”
Previously Chacone has performed feats such as burning cow’s hearts on the sideline to signify the Day of the Dead when playing for his club side.
The GYG Latin Heat combines 24 nations in Central and South America, from Mexico in the north to Argentina and Chile in the south.
Last year in the corresponding fixture the Latinos were thrashed 114-0 by the Philippines, but have since beaten Portugal and Japan, drawn with Thailand and had competitive losses to the USA and Greece.
This year’s PAL Philippines Tamaraws team contains former NRL players Shane Gray and Paul Sheedy, as well as Queensland State League icon Rez Phillips.
Saturday’s action at Bishop Park, Nundah – home of the Norths Brisbane Devils – will see four matches played, including a ‘United Nations’ team that features players from a broad spectrum of non-traditional league nations, including Ecuador, South Sudan, Cambodia, Burundi and Uruguay.
Bundaberg’s Indigenous Wellbeing Centre will enter a team against Queensland Maori in a fierce prelude to the main game, with IWC also sponsoring the trophy in the Latino-Filipino square-off.
The Latin Heat would also like to thank team sponsors Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, S.H.I.E.L.D Security, Link International Student Service Centres, Normanby Hotel, Rumba Latina Entertainment, Chimi.com.au Gourmet Sauces and Brisbane City Council’s Lord Mayor’s Suburban Initiative Fund for making the event possible.
IWC MAGELLAN TROPHY 2015 – Sat Jan 17, Bishop Park, Nundah
4pm – Youth Game – United Nations (Latin America/Africa) v Philippines.
5.10pm – Men’s Development – Latin America v Philippines
6.30pm – Bundaberg Indigenous Wellbeing XIII v QLD Maori
8pm – International – GYG Latin Heat v PAL Philippines Tamaraws
*Main game livestreamed on www.latinheatrl.com