La Ronca vs. La Ronca

Left: Helenita "La Ronca de Oro" Vargas. Right: Carlos "La Ronca" Betancur.

A couple of days ago I ran into an interview with Carlos Betancur in a Colombian magazine where they flat out ask him which nickname he likes better "Bam Bam," "Bananito," or "La Ronca." Betancur says he doesn't know why Bananito became so popular, but in cycling he's always been known as La Ronca, and that's the nickname he prefers.

Who am I to argue? La Ronca it is. But what does La Ronca mean?

The word ronco as an adjective means hoarse. The verb roncar means to snore. As a noun the word means the hoarse, throaty, or the raspy one. The -a ending means that the noun refers to a female. So, literally it means "the woman with the raspy voice."

The nickname comes from his throaty voice and how it sounds like a very famous and beloved Colombian singer from the 60s and 70s named Helenita Vargas. Her throaty voice earned her the nickname La Ronca de Oro. She had a very long and successful career singing everything from boleros and racheras to tangos and baladas. Helenita died, age 76, in 2011.

Below I compare Las Roncas for your reading entertainment. It should become apparent very quickly that their nickname is the only thing they have in common.


Helenita "La Ronca de Oro" Vargas

Full Name:
Sofia Helena Vargas Marulanda

Date of birth: 
March 3, 1934

Place of birth: 
Cali, Colombia

Known for:
Her beautiful, romantic, yet raspy voice

Career Highlight:
Her collaboration with legendary Nicaraguan composer Carlos Mejía Godoy in the 1970s, to record her greatest hit "María de los Guardias"

Liked by:
My gramma and her sister
Carlos "La Ronca" Betancur

Full Name:
Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez

Date of birth: 
October 13, 1989

Place of birth
Ciudad Bolívar, Colombia

Known for:
Having braces well into his 20s

Career Highlight:
Winning the Young Riders classification in the 2013 Giro d'Italia


Liked by:
My brother and I



So, there you have it. Same nickname, two totally different Colombian celebrities. In case you want to compare the voices, here's two videos for you to watch. One is from 1979, the other from 2013. Enjoy!