A short biography of Spanish anarchist poet and inventor of table football (“foosball”), Alejandro Finisterre, born Alejandro Campos Ramirez.
Alejandro was born in the Galician town of Finisterre in 1919, the son of a lighthouse radio telegraphist with nine brothers and sisters.
He left home to study in Madrid aged 15, and worked as a building labourer, typesetter and tap dancer to pay for his education.
His political idealism found its realisation with the outbreak of the Spanish revolution in 1936. However in November that year he was severely injured when his house was bombed and he was buried under the rubble.
Recovering in a convalescent home in Catalonia, he saw many injured children, unable to play football with their friends. And so, inspired by the idea of table tennis, set about building a table football pitch with a carpenter using pine wood and steel bars.
On the advice of a fellow anarchist he patented the design in Barcelona in 1937.
Forced to flee with the fascist victory he went to France, and was subsequently imprisoned for four years in Morocco before moving to Latin America.
In 1952 he began to make some money from table football, and even played the game with Che Guevara.
While living in Guatemala (one of the few countries which recognise the Republic as Spain’s legitimate government), he carried confidential documents from the Spanish Republican ambassador to Mexico.
As a result after the US-backed military coup in 1954 he was kidnapped by agents of Spanish dictator General Franco and put on a plane back to Madrid.
Using the on-board toilet, he wrapped a bar of soap in silver paper and emerged declaring “I am a Spanish refugee” and threatening to blow up the plane, in one of the earliest acts of aeroplane hijacking.
He won the support of the flight crew and passengers, who landed the plane to let him off in Panama.
He returned to live in Spain after Franco’s death.
He died in Zamora on 9 February 2007, aged 87, and retained his idealism to the end: "I believe in progress: there is a human impulse towards happiness, peace, justice and love, and that world will one day arrive!"