Latin America Mourns Former President, Oswaldo “Papelón” Borges Passes Away
Courtesy of ITTF
It is with great sadness that the death of Oswaldo “Papelón” Borges, former President of the Latin American Table Tennis Union, is announced; he was admitted to hospital in the Venezuelan capital city of Caracas on Friday October 16th following kidney failure.
He passed away on Wednesday October 21st; he was 79 years old.
A life dedicated to sport. He was the Venezuelan Minister of Sport from 1979 to 1984 in addition to being the current Vice President of the Venezuelan Olympic Committee and former Chair of the National Sports Institute.
Notably he was the Venezuelan Chef de Mission of the Central American and Caribbean Games Mayagüez 2010.
Player of the Century
In the sporting arena, he gained the recognition of being his country’s “Volleyball Player of the Twentieth Century”. He competed in two World Championships, four Pan American Games, four Central American Games, four South American Games and two Bolivarianos Games.
Unfortunately an Olympic Games appearance proved elusive.
Turned Attentions to Table Tennis
Venezuela came close but qualification never materialised and in 1989, encouraged by fellow countryman, the renowned coach Pancho Seijas, Oswaldo Borges turned his attentions from Volleyball to Table Tennis.
In 1990 he became President of the Venezuelan Table Tennis Federation, in 2006 the President of the South American Table Tennis Federation and, on Saturday 28th May 2011 in Guadalajara, he was elected President of the Latin American Table Tennis Union.
Illness meant he did not seek re-election at the Congress in Buenos Aires earlier this year.
Oswaldo Borges but always he was “Papelón”.
The name comes from school days. He was tall and his skin was somewhat darker than most Venezuelans. Schoolmates likened him to brown sugar which has a white paper covering and is long and thin in size, known in Venezuela as a “Papelón”.
One day at school he was wearing white clothes and a boy in his class told him he looked like a “Papelón”. Oswaldo took exception to the nickname and duly thumped the boy with his fist!
News travelled fast, others taunted him with the name “Papelón”; he thumped them as well! The School Principal sent for his mother, he was told to calm down.
He did calm down and that is how we will remember “Papelón”; well organised, listening to all points of view and making calculated decisions.
Toronto and Xalapa
The last time I saw Oswaldo “Papelón” Borges was earlier this year at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto; dressed proudly in a Venezuelan National Team tracksuit, as always there was the welcoming smile.
Last November at the Central American and Caribbean Games, he was most concerned that everything was in place for me to fulfil my work and most apologetic that he had not been able to welcome me personally in Veracruz prior to travelling to Xalapa.
Simply he wanted everything to be correct, no stone unturned; the table tennis events more than lived up to expectations in Xalapa. Clearly he was delighted.
However, the comment that will last in my mind for ever was at a reception held on the occasion of the 2013 ITTF-Latin American Championships in San Salvador.
Kindly Oswaldo “Papelón” Borges thanked all concerned with the closing words being “and of course one Englishman.”
Maybe he did not realise but the comment meant more to me that any material reward.
The man who in a very short space of time became my good friend; Oswaldo “Papelón” Borges, rest in peace.
The funeral will take place on Thursday October 22nd in Caracas at 10:00am local time.