I was born in Washington DC. My mum was from Huesca and my dad from Barcelona. Outside our house, we were definitely in the US, but inside it was Spain! Growing up there in the Sixties, everything was modern and new, so it was a shock when I came to Barcelona [to play basketball for FC Barcelona] as in many ways it was like being in the Third World.
It was a big transition for a 16-year-old. There were no McDonald’s [laughs] and I was living with my older sister. My height [6’8”/2.03m] made me the centre of attraction for a much shorter Spanish population of that time. I remember having a lot of freedom, so that was fun.
While playing professionally, several knee injuries put paid to my basketball career prematurely, so I taught English as a foreign language for a while, then was fortunate enough to become a simultaneous interpreter.
I’ve done that for 25 years and I absolutely love it. I think we do have some kind of special chip in our brains, or maybe it’s a talent, because it’s certainly not for everyone and not everyone can do it. I have been able to meet some really incredible people, both as an interpreter and as an MC: legions of movie stars and elite athletes here for promotions, including Nicole Kidman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kiefer Sutherland, Ben Affleck, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Roger Federer, to name only a few. It’s exciting and yes, I do get star-struck sometimes!
At the same time, I’ve also been working as an events organiser, particularly sports events. That started with basketball. I used to tour all over with the NBA and it fitted well with my personality. Thanks to my links in that world, I found myself becoming a presenter at major events, including the basketball at the Athens and London Olympics or Davis Cup Finals.
I’m currently organising all the entertainment at the World Swimming Championships [click here for details]. It is a massive challenge being able to do everything you want to do and still put on a good show. We have some incredible events lined up in the six disciplines, and it will be an exciting spectacle.
I’m not the most organised person in the world, so Rosa, my wife of 33 years—we’ve been married for 33 years, she’s not 33 years old [chuckles heartily]—generally follows along behind me, sweeping up my mess! What I do have, though, is people skills and I’m good at strategy and creativity.
Without wishing to sound like a walking cliché, I am now at a stage in my life where I want to concentrate on the fun, fulfilling things and do more of what I like. Interpreting at an all-day medical conference is exhausting, but presenting or being an MC thrills. I’ve only ever fallen off the stage once, and that was at a children’s event at EuroDisney, so I sort of got away with it.
Professionally, I’m proud that I’m still here and well considered after all these years. Personally, I’m extremely proud of my family. I have two daughters and a son and we are very close-knit. Some of our best times are spent just hanging out at home watching TV series or laughing at our own foibles.
When I came to Barcelona, it was a shambles. There were potholes in the roads and the Les Corts area, where I lived, was nothing but undeveloped fields. I like that the Catalan mentality of mixing ingenuity and efficiency without any loss of flavour has seen it grow into a modern and sophisticated city.
I belong to the International Christian Church of Barcelona (ICB) and believe God is there with me and has helped me make it this far. I’ve seen many things over the years that have only strengthened my faith.
I think the theme song to my life would be ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’. If you are confident and expect good things, more good things will happen to you.