(also played as Zabal)

Jon Iñaki Mendizabal
Born in Mutriku (3/12/70)
Married, with two children

1992 - Newport - Most wins
1992 - Newport - Singles Champion
1993 - Carmelo Balda (Spain) - Most wins
1998 - Milford - Most wins
2000 - World Series (Milford) - Doubles Champion (with Wayne)
2001 - Milford - Most wins and Singles Champion
2002 - Eusko Basque "Cesta de Oro" Championship (with Felix)
2003 - Eusko Basque "Cesta de Oro" Championship (with Lopez)

DYR: Jon, tell us about your experiences as a young amateur player.

"We used to practice almost every day and also we played 3 or 4 partidos a week. We used to compete against players from Markina, Berriatua and San Sebastian. I was ten years old when I started playing jai-alai. Jose Mari Ruiz was the person who introduced me to the game.

I have something funny to tell you ... in the beginning as an amateur player I was so consumed by practices and partidos that one morning I woke up with a cesta strapped on my hand, ha, ha, ha. Talk about being in love with jai-alai, ha, ha."

DYR: Do you remember your pro debut?

"Yes, it was incredible! I made my debut in West Palm Beach in 1987. I was nervous -- I was only 17. What amazed me was the size of the fronton and the parking lot. They were huge!"

West Palm Beach, 1987
left to right: Arruti (Urki), Arrieta (Ruiz), Goixarri

DYR: Jon, after playing one season in West Palm Beach, you and most other professional jai-alai players went on strike. Do you have anything to say about that?

"I have positive memories about the strike. It was very hard to be on strike for 3 years, but we learned a lot from those years."

1988 Strike, Newport (with Arrieta Ruiz)

DYR: From Newport to Milford and Bridgeport, which of these is your favorite fronton?

"I loved Milford Jai-Alai. A perfect fronton, in my opinion. Big and beautiful. To me the best cancha I ever played in my life."

     Jon Mendizabal (Goixarri) at age 20

DYR: In your opinion, who were the best players of all time?

"The old players will tell you that Piston, Txutxo Larrañaga, Ondarrés, Txurruka were the best, but, in my opinion, Txikito de Bolivar was the best."

"Meet the Stars"
Newport, 1992


Goixarri and Wayne
World Series Championship

May 21, 2000
(from Jai-Alai News, by Jeff Holtz)

Milford's Goixarri and Wayne started the weekend with an impressive first round qualifying win on Friday night, and ended it with an equally impressive 15-7 victory over Dania's Arriaga and Cuvet in the third annual World Series of Jai-Alai partido final on Sunday afternoon at Milford Jai-Alai. Goixarri and Wayne, who split a winner-take-all purse of $3,000, never trailed in the partido. They scored eight straight to end the game.

"There's no question that playing well on the first night gave us a lot of confidence," admitted Goixarri. "We scored six straight points the first time up in both of our qualifying wins. And that's hard to do going against this competition." Wayne had promised to make the Series a coming out party for himself. And the Portsmouth, Rhode Island native was outstanding. "All we wanted to do was play as a team, and communicate. And we did it," he added. "We took Arriaga out of the game early. And that was very important."

An Arriaga cortada is not to be trifled with, but, on this day, Goixarri handled them all. Time after time, he snared the Arriaga bullets and managed the deep return. Arriaga ran out of gas about half way through the game, and it was Goixarri that beat him ..... Tiger

DYR: Do you still train the kids in Mutriku?

"Yes, on Tuesdays and Fridays. I have 20 kids, ages 5 to 8. I really enjoy teaching them. The kids are terrific!"

DYR: Were the players at Milford Jai-Alai expecting that the fronton would close in the way that it occurred?

"No, no. The management did a poor job. It was sad what they did to us."

DYR: I would imagine that you all lost a great deal of money.

"I don't want to talk about money, but we lost a lot."

Here's a big thumbs-up from Goixarri, in Mutriku
(the local church is behind him)

Interview date: 11/10/05
© Copyright 2005, RSB Associates