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African Americans in Sport

  • Jesse Owens

    Jesse Owens
    Jesse Owens makes history Through the Summer Olympics of 1936 in Berlin, Germany, Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals for the United States. His events included the 100m sprint, the long jump, the 200m sprint, and the 4x100 m relay race. This accomlshment was not matched until 1984 by Carl Lewis.
  • Kenny Washington and Woody Stode

    Kenny Washington and Woody Stode
    In 1933, after 31 years of limited integration, the NFL banned black athletes from participating in league play. When the NFL was reintegrated in 1946, black players made an immediate impact, leading their teams in most statistical categories. The LA Rams became the first team to integrate when they hired black players Kenny Washington and Woody Strode, both teammates of Jackie Robinson on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team.
  • Jackie Robinson

    Jackie Robinson
    Jackie Robinson makes his debut for the Brookyln Dodgers as the first ever African American to play in the MLB. This gigantic stride prepared the way for the legendary feats of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. With Jackie Robinson on the roster, the Dodgers won the league title, and Robinson finished with a .297 batting average, a league leading 29 stolen bases, and was awarded the first ever Rookie of the Year award.
  • Althea Gibson

    Althea Gibson
    Althea Gibson became the first African American to play in and win Wimbledon and the United States national tennis championship. She won both tournaments twice, in 1957 and 1958. In all, Gibson won 56 tournaments, including five Grand Slam singles events.
  • Willie Thrower

    Willie Thrower
    Willie Thrower became NFL's first African-American quarterback when he appeared in a game for the Chicago Bears on Oct. 18, 1953; he never appeared in another game and it would be 15 years before another African-American quarterback would take a snap in a pro game. Thrower was cut by the Bears the next year and played in the Canadian Football League until a separated shoulder forced him into retirement. He died of a heart attack on February 20, 2002.
  • Willie O'Ree

    Willie O'Ree
    Over the past sixty years, there have been only 18 black players in the NHL. The first of these players was Willie O’Ree. O’Ree made his debut as the first black player when he signed with the Quebec Aces, a minor league team affiliated with the Boston Bruins. There would not be another black hockey player for twenty-five more years. During his second season, O’Ree was struck in the eye with a puck and lost 95% of his vision in his right eye. Regardless, O'Ree was on the ice after 8 weeks.
  • Wilma Rudolph

    Wilma Rudolph
    Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals (in the 100- and 200-meter dash and 400-meter relay) at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. She was the first American woman to accomplish that feat, and in 1961 she became the first black woman to win the James E. Sullivan Award, America's highest honor in amateur athletics.
  • Muhammad Ali

    Muhammad Ali
    Knocked Out son!
    Cassius Clay knocks down Sonny Liston in the sixth round of the fight. Liston forfeited the next round, declaring Cassius Clay a.ka. "Muhammad Ali" the heavyweight champion of boxing. Clay became the youngest African American to win the belt, holding the record until Mike Tyson beat Trevor Berbick in 1986.
  • Lee Elder

    Lee Elder
    Lee Elder is best known for becoming the first African American to play in the Masters. Leading up to the tournament he received substantial amounts of hate mail. Fearing for his safety, during the week of the tournament he rented two houses in town and kept moving between them, and always had people around him when he went to eat. Elder shot a 74 on day one and a 78 on day two of the 1975 Masters, missing the cut, but the impact of his presence in the field was clear.
  • Tiger Woods

    Tiger Woods
    Tiger wins Masters
    Woods wins The Masters with a record score of 18-under-par 270, by a record margin of 12 strokes. The landmark victory made Woods the tournament's youngest-ever winner, as well as its first African-American winner (and its first Asian-American winner). Woods set 20 Masters records in 1997 and tied six others. On June 15, 1997, he obtained the #1 spot in the world, the youngest player to hold this title.
  • Vonetta Flowers

    Vonetta Flowers
    Vonetta Flowers was the first black athlete (male or female)--from any country--to ever win an Olympic Winter Games gold medal. In the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Vonetta and Jill Bakken drove USA to an Olympic gold medal, ending the United States' 46-year medal drought in bobsled. The 2-woman bobsled team's time was 1 minute 48 seconds.
  • Barry Bonds

    Barry Bonds
    756 Homerun Barry Bonds hits his 756th career homerun, surpassing Hank Aron to become the all time homerun leader. Bonds hit his record homerun off of National's pitcher Mike Bacsik off a 3-2 count. The ball was caught by Matt Murphy, a mets fan, and the ball was later sold at an auction for $752, 467.
  • Highest Paid Athlete

    Highest Paid Athlete
    Despite dropped sponsors since the car crash of 2009 and the sex scandals, Tiger Woods is still the highest paid athlete in sports. Woods earned $75 million over the past 12 months, easily outdistancing second-ranked Kobe Bryant, who made $53 million. His two biggest sponsors to date are Nike and Electronic Arts.
  • African American Sport Tribue

    African American Sport Tribue