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African Americans In Sport

  • Moses Fleetwood Walker

    Moses Fleetwood Walker
    Skilled catcher, Moses Fleetwood Walker was the first official African-American baseball player. Walker debuted May 1, 1884, after his club, the Toledo Blue Stockings, joined the baseball's American Association.
  • Jack Johnson

    Jack Johnson
    Jack Johnson became the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion of the world from 1908-1915. He was said to be a heavy influence on boxing superstar Muhammad Ali. (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946)
  • Frederick Douglass Pollard

    Frederick Douglass Pollard
    In 1916, Fritz Pollard became the first African American to play in the Rose Bowl and the first to be named All-American. He went on to have a seven-year career in the NFL with the Akron Pros. In 1923, he made another breakthrough when named head coach of the Akron Pros. He would be the only African-American head coach in NFL history until 1989, three years after his death. (January 27, 1894 – May 11, 1986)
  • Jesse Owens

    Jesse Owens
    In the 1936 Summer Olympic games in Berlin, Germany, Jesse Owens surpassed all odds by winning four gold medals in track and field events. Winning the 100m, Long Jump, 200m, and 4x100m relay. Although he was shunned by Hitler to participate in the Olympics that took part in Berlin, Jesse went and competed anyway.
  • Jackie Robinson

    Jackie Robinson
    The first African-American to join Major League Baseball (1947) and first to be elected to the baseball Hall of Fame, Jackie Robinson is famous for breaking the color barrier. Robinson once said, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
  • Willie Mays

    Willie Mays
    The "Say Hey Kid", Willie Mays, joined the MLB in 1951. He was best known for his all-around athleticism. In his illustrious career, he swatted 660 home runs and retired with a .302 batting average. He debuted with the San Francisco Giants. Was regarded as the best all-around player of all time.
  • Willie Thrower

    Willie Thrower
    Willie Thrower became the NFL's first African-American quarterback when he received a contract from the Chicago Bears as a back-up quarterback. In 1953, he finally saw playing time when he came in for Bears quarterback George Blanda.
  • Hank Aaron

    Hank Aaron
    Hank Aaron debuted in 1954 and played 23 years for Major League Baseball. He was selected to play in 24 All-Star games. He also surpassed Babe Ruth by belting a record-setting 755 home runs.
  • Althea Gibson

    Althea Gibson
    Althea Gibson was the first African-American ever to win national tennis championships including the U.S. Open (1957-58), French Open (1956-58), Australian Doubles and Wimbledon (1957-58). Sometimes referred as "The Jackie Robinson of Tennis". (August 25, 1927 – September 28, 2003)
  • Jim Brown

    Jim Brown
    Jim Brown, former running back for the Cleveland Browns, was selected in the first round of the 1956 NFL draft. When he left the game in 1965, he had the most rushing yards (12,312), touchdowns (126), and rushing touchdowns (106).
  • Bill Russell

    Bill Russell
    Considered to be one of the greatest players before Michael Jordan, Bill Russell led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA championships. After playing, Russell became the first African-American to coach an NBA team when he took the helm of the Celtics in 1967. This day marks his first game as a Celtic.
  • Oscar Robertson

    Oscar Robertson
    This day in time was when Oscar Roberston debuted in his first NBA game. Oscar Robertson or "the O-Train" played for the NBA from 1960-1974. A 12-time All-Star, Robertson is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season.
  • Muhammad Ali

    Muhammad Ali
    Muhammad Ali starts his career as a professional boxer. "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee" was boxer Muhammad Ali's mantra. His career spanned four decades as he tallied 57 wins and 39 knockouts in 62 fights. Aka Cassius Clay Jr., he went on to become the first and only three-time lineal world heavy weight champion.
  • Michael Jordan

    Michael Jordan
    <a href='' Michael Jordan debuts his first game in the NBA. Arguably the greatest basketball player, Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles. He also played 14 times in NBA all-star games.
  • Bo Jackson

    Bo Jackson</a>Bo Jackson made history when he was named an all-star for two American sports: the NFL's Los Angeles Raiders and the MLB's Kansas City Royals. In 1986 he joined the Royals and in 1987, he joined the Raiders. Previous to that, he won the Heisman trophy in college in 1985. On this day, he debuts his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Mike Tyson

    Mike Tyson
    Perhaps the most entertaining boxer of them all, Mike Tyson may have been the most talented. He became the youngest heavyweight champion when he was 20 years old. Out of 58 fights, Tyson had 50 wins and 44 of them were by KO.
  • Tiger Woods

    Tiger Woods
    Tiger Woods became the first golfer of African-American heritage to win the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Possibly the greatest golfer to ever play the game, Tiger Woods' achievements place him among the elite golfers of the world. In his career, he has already won four Masters tournaments, three U.S. Opens and 71 PGA Tours.
  • Vonetta Flowers

    Vonetta Flowers
    After a failed attempt to make the Summer Olympic Games as a sprinter, Flowers became interested in women's bobsledding. In 2002 at the Salt Lake Games, Flowers and teammate won the gold medal in the women's bobsledding event. She was the first African American (male or female) to win an Olympic Winter Gold Medal.
  • Shani Davis

    Shani Davis
    At the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, Shani Davis became the first African-American to win the gold medal in speed skating.