boxer, civil rights activist. Perhaps one of the most recognized people in the world, Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. to Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. and Odessa (Grady) Clay in Louisville, Kentucky. He was named in honor of his father and the white Kentucky abolitionist Cassius M. Clay. Clay attended the all-black Central High School in Louisville, Kentucky, graduating 376th out of a senior class of 391. Ali has been married four times: to Sonji Roi, Kalilah Tolona (formerly Belinda Boyd), Veronica Porsche, and Yolanda Ali. He has been married to Yolanda since 1986, and has seven daughters and two sons, including Laila Ali, a boxer in her own right.
Gregory Travis Bond
athlete, dentist, and politician, was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Gary W. Cable, a teacher and postal worker, and Mary Ellen Montgomery Cable, a public school administrator and civil rights activist. In 1894 the family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Cable attended public school and graduated from integrated Shortridge High School in 1908. He moved on to the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for the next school year and enrolled at Harvard University in 1909.
Cable had not participated in organized athletics in high school, but he tried out for the freshman track team at Harvard and caught the eye of Coach Pat Quinn. With Quinn's guidance, Cable developed rapidly. In the annual Harvard-Yale freshman meet, he won the hammer throw and he also performed well in the 220-yard hurdles and the broad jump (now the long jump) in intramural competitions.
He easily made ...
Adam R. Hornbuckle
track and field athlete, Olympic decathlon champion, professional football player, community organizer, and motivational speaker, was born on 9 December 1933, in Plainfield, New Jersey. Milton Gray Campbell was the second of three children of Thomas and Edith Campbell. His father worked as a taxi cab driver and his mother as a domestic. At Plainfield High School Campbell excelled in football, track and field, and swimming. In his junior year he competed in the 100 meters and the 110-meter high hurdles at the 1952 United States Olympic Trials finishing sixth in the second semifinal heat of the 100 meters and fifth in the finals of the 110 meter high hurdles Later that summer Campbell competed in the Amateur Athletic Union AAU Decathlon National Championships which also served as the Olympic Trials for the two day ten event contest In his first attempt at ...
track-and-field athlete, was born John Wesley Carlos in Harlem, New York, the youngest of five children of Earl Vanderbilt Carlos, a cobbler, and Vioris Carlos, a nurse's aide. Initially Carlos desired to become an Olympic swimmer, but few African Americans had access to suitable training facilities for those events. He was encouraged by local police officers to become involved in track and field and trained at the New York Pioneer Club. He competed for the first time when he represented the Machine Trade and Metal High School at the Penn Relays. During his senior year Carlos married Karen Benjamin Groce on 29 February 1965 and with her had two children. Following high school he was awarded a full track-and-field scholarship to East Texas State University at Commerce.
In 1967 during his first year at East Texas State Carlos won the university s first Lone Star Conference title and ...
Shortly before the Civil War a new pastime began to sweep the gentlemen’s clubs and social societies, one that would eventually evolve into the “national pastime”—baseball. The game quickly gained momentum throughout America, with amateur, leisure clubs springing up across the eastern portion of the country, followed by professionalized teams in the 1870s.
Almost from the beginning the nascent pastime caught fire within African American communities just as it did in white society. However, for most of baseball’s first century of existence, a largely informal but nevertheless real “color line” divided the players, owners, journalists, and fans with the same type of racial segregation that plagued almost every other aspect of American society.
But despite this discrimination the passion for and subsequent quality of baseball was just as vibrant in African American culture as it was elsewhere and Chicago developed into what was arguably the strongest and most vital locus ...
Winifred W. Thompson
Anita L. DeFrantz is one of the most influential people in sports in the early twenty-first century. She became involved in the Olympic field as a competitor when she won a bronze medal on the U.S. women’s eight-oared shell at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. She was the first woman to represent the United States on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1986 and, in 1997, she became the first woman, as well as the first African American, to be vice president of the IOC. DeFrantz has worked on the Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta Olympic Games as a member of the United States Olympic Executive Committee.
DeFrantz was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Robert and Anita P. DeFrantz Her father directed the Community Action against Poverty organization her mother taught and eventually became a professor of Education at the University of San Francisco DeFrantz s ...
Norman O. Richmond
organizer of protests by black U.S. athletes at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. As a young activist at San Jose State University, Harry Edwards led a black student protest that forced cancellation of the school's opening football game in 1967. He then organized a national boycott to bring attention to the racism endemic to organized sports in the United States, calling for more black coaches and more equitable treatment for black athletes. His most famous crusade was as an architect of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, an effort to boycott the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City The boycott failed to materialize and the OPHR instead focused on using the Olympics to give visibility to the black liberation struggle The project was both Pan Africanist and internationalist in scope black athletes from the United States would be demonstrating their solidarity with liberation movements in the ...
athlete, scholar, soldier, and judge, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, one of nine children of Walter Holmes Gourdin, a meat cutter and part Seminole Indian, and Felicia Nee, an African American woman who was a housekeeper. Little is known about his early school career, other than that he was valedictorian of his high school class in 1916. Although poor, Gourdin's parents recognized their son's talents and educational potential and, following his high school graduation, moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to further his career. There, Gourdin attended Cambridge High and Latin, which helped prepare him for the high academic demands of an Ivy League education.
By the time he enrolled in his freshman year at Harvard in 1917 Gourdin appears to have been a conscientious and responsible student To pay tuition he supported himself by working as a postal clerk He also became a ...
Edward Orval Gourdin was born on August 10, 1897, in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Walter Holmes and Felicia Garvin Gourdin. As a child, Gourdin demonstrated such athletic and scholarly excellence that his family sacrificed and took him to Massachusetts to realize his potential. He prepared at Stanton and Cambridge Latin high schools for Harvard College and graduated in 1921 with a B.A. degree; he completed Harvard Law School in 1924 with an LL.B. degree. On May 10, 1923, he married Amalia Ponce of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who became the mother of their four children: Elizabeth, Ann Robinson, Amalia Lindal, and Edward O., Jr.
Gourdin gained fame as an athlete during his college and university career, passed the bar, practiced law in Boston, Massachusetts, and joined the National Guard in 1925. During World War II he served as lieutenant colonel and later ...
Egyptian politician, athlete, and explorer, was born in Bulaq on 31 October 1889. He was the son of Shaykh Muhammad Hasanayn of al-Azhar and the grandson of Admiral Ahmad Pasha Mazhar Hasanayn. Hasanayn received his early education in Cairo, then at Balliol College, Oxford. A skilled fencer, in 1920 he captained the Egyptian team at the Olympic Games in Brussels. In the early 1920s, he was commissioned by King Fuʾad to explore Egypt’s Western Desert. The Lost Oases (1925) is his own account of his expedition of 1923 on which he traveled from Egypt’s Mediterranean coast through the Libyan Desert, discovering the “lost” oases of Arkenu and Ouenat, and for which he received the Founder’s Medal of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society. In the hope of establishing a long-distance flight record, in 1929 he learned to fly; plagued by malfunctioning aircraft, he eventually abandoned the effort.
Somewhat out ...
Evan J. Albright
lawyer, government official, and college athlete, was born in Berkley, Virginia, the eldest son of Ashley Henry and Josephine Baker, both former slaves. Not long after William's birth the family moved to Portsmouth, where Ashley Henry became a minister in the Ebenezer Baptist Church. In 1885 William enrolled in the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute in Petersburg, a school for the children of Virginia's African American elites established to fulfill a campaign promise made by the Virginia Readjuster Party, which through a coalition of Republican whites and newly freed African Americans had won control of the state government. At Virginia Normal, William found a mentor in the school's president, John Mercer Langston. When Democrats came back into power in Virginia in 1887, Langston was fired. William Lewis led a delegation of students to Richmond where they received an audience with Governor Fitzhugh Lee ...
Charles Orson Cook
sprinting champion who later served as a U.S. congressman. Although overshadowed by Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics, the track-and-field star Ralph Harold Metcalfe was America's premier sprinter for several years in the early 1930s. He was born in Atlanta on 30 May 1910, the third son of Clarence and Mamie Holmes Metcalfe, but shortly thereafter the family moved to Chicago, where his father found employment in the city's stockyards and his mother was a dressmaker. Metcalfe was the national interscholastic sprint champion in 1929, and at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he was the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion in the 100- and 220-yard dashes for three successive years, from 1932 through 1934.
In the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles he won the silver medal in the 100 meter dash and the bronze in the 200 meters He equaled or broke world ...
David L. Porter
Metcalfe, Ralph Harold (30 May 1910–10 October 1978), track and field athlete and U.S. congressman, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Clarence Metcalfe, a stockyard worker, and Marie Attaway, a seamstress. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1917, grew up in a slum area on the South Side, and attended Tilden Technical High School. Metcalfe won the 1929 interscholastic track-and-field sprint championship and, as a member of the Chase Athletic Club, captured the 1930 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) junior 100-yard title in 9.7 seconds.
A 5′ 11″, 180-pound speedster, Metcalfe attended Marquette University, breezing through the 1932 track-and-field season undefeated in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes and taking both events at the NCAA and AAU championships. That same year Metcalfe dethroned Eddie Tolan as the dominant American sprinter On 11 June he tied Tolan s world mark in the 100 yard dash and shattered ...
The first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896. From modest beginnings, the Olympics, which now consist of winter games and summer games held every four years, have become perhaps the greatest spectacle in sports. Pierre de Courbertin (1863–1937), a French aristocrat and the driving force behind reviving the ancient Greek games, was instrumental in creating the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to oversee the Olympics. From their inception, the modern Olympics have been colored by international politics. Nonetheless, the games have survived nationalism, boycotts, athletes’ using performance-enhancing drugs, and terrorism. Along the way, African American athletes have played a significant role in making the Summer Olympics Games an international spectacle.
Few African American athletes participated in the Olympics during the early years of their revival Racism and segregation hampered the creation of programs in track and field and other sports for ...
Maureen M. Smith
Olympic track-and-field gold medalist and world record holder, was born in Clarksville, Texas, to James Richard, a sharecropper, and Dora Smith. Tommie, the seventh of twelve children, grew up on a farm where his family raised hogs and cows and picked cotton. Like many black Texans hoping to escape the misery of the Jim Crow South, the Smiths moved to the San Joaquin Valley of California and settled in Lemoore. There, Smith's athletic track career began in the fourth grade, when he raced the fastest kid at his school, his older sister, Sallie, and won. He struggled academically but nonetheless decided in the sixth grade that he wanted to be a teacher. Recognizing the lack of attention given to his own learning difficulties, he hoped that he might serve students more effectively.Smith grew rapidly as he entered his teenage years and he excelled ...
Charles Ford Williams
battalion chief in the New York City Fire Department, was born in New York City, the eldest son of James H. Williams, chief red cap (porter) of the New York Central Railroad station (now Grand Central Terminal), and Lucy (Metrash) Williams. Williams spent some of his early childhood years with his mother's family in Norwalk, Connecticut, where he attended the Marvin Elementary School. In 1903 the Williamses moved to the Bronx after Williams's father started working as a porter and they later moved to Harlem. When Williams was twelve years old he won a roller-skating contest thanks to the training advice of Charles Ramsay, his aunt's neighbor. Ramsay taught Williams the principles of Benarr Macfadden s Physical Culture philosophy to breathe fresh air eat fresh foods rich in vitamins and exercise through progressive resistance training It was believed that by following these principles one could maximize physical ...