African Americans in Sports

  • William DeHart Hubbard

    William DeHart Hubbard
    William DeHart Hubbard won the long jump at the 1924 Olympics, becoming the first black athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event; set the long jump world record in 1925 (25-103/4) and tied the 100-yard dash record (9.6) in 1926. He also founded the Cincinnati Tigers, a professional baseball team, which played in the Negro American League. In 1957, Hubbard was elected to the National Track Hall of Fame.
  • Jesse Owens

    Jesse Owens
    Jesse OwensJesse Owens became an American hero after an amazing performance at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. At the time, Germany was ruled by Adolph Hitler who absurdly believed that blacks, Asians and other races were inferior to whites. Jessie proved how wrong Hitler's racist ideas were by winning the gold medal in the 4x100m relay, long jump, the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash.
  • Jackie Robinson

    Jackie Robinson
    Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play major league baseball. Jackie was a star in the Negro Leagues but wasn't allowed to play in major league baseball because he was black. He finally got his chance when he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945. On April 15, 1947, he played his first major league game as the Dogers' first baseman. Many people booed and jeered Jackie when he took the field but by the end of the season, he won many of them over with his play on the field. R
  • Alice Coachman

    Alice Coachman
    Alice Coachman became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal with her win in the high jump in 1948 (London); broke the high school and college high jump records despite not wearing any shoes; member of the National Track & Field Hall of Fame. Coachman also excelled in the indoor and outdoor 50 m dash and the outdoor 100 m dash. Representing Tuskegee Institute, Coachman also ran on the national champion 4 x 100-meter relay team in 1941 and 1942.
  • Althea Gibson

    Althea Gibson
    Althea Gibson was a World #1 American sportswoman who basically became the first African-American woman to be a competitor on the world tennis tour and the first to win a Grand Slam title in 1956. She is sometimes referred to as "the Jackie Robinson of tennis" for breaking the color barrier. Gibson was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
  • Willie Thrower

    Willie Thrower
    Willie Thrower was the NFL's first African-American quarterback when he appeared in a game for the Bears in 1953; never appeared in another game and it would be 15 years before another African-American quarterback would take a snap in a pro game; cut by the Bears the next year and played in the Canadian Football League until a separated shoulder forced him to retire at age 27; led Michigan State to national championship in 1952.
  • Willie O'Ree

    Willie O'Ree
    He (was) Canadian former professional ice hockey player, known for being the first black player in the (NHL) National Hockey League. O'Ree played as a winger for the Boston Bruins. O'Ree is referred to as the "Jackie Robinson of ice hockey" due to breaking the color barrier in the sport, and has stated publicly that he had met Jackie Robinson twice in his own younger years.
  • Muhammad Ali

    Muhammad Ali
    Muhammad Ali
    Nicknamed "The Greatest," Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches.[8] Notable among these were three with rival Joe Frazier, which are considered among the greatest in boxing history, and one with George Foreman, where he finally regained his stripped titles seven years later. Ali was well known for his unorthodox fighting style, which he described as "float[ing] like a butterfly, sting[ing] like a bee."
  • Arthur Ashe

    Arthur Ashe
    Arthur Ashe was at one point the World #1 professional tennis player, born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. During his career, he won three Grand Slam titles, putting him among the best ever from the United States. Ashe, an African American, was the first black player ever selected to the United States Davis Cup team and the only black man to ever win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, or Australian Open.
  • Vonetta Flowers

    Vonetta Flowers
    Vonetta Flowers is an American bobsledder and athlete. Flowers was a star sprinter and long jumper at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and originally aspired to make the U.S. Summer Olympic Team. After some failed attempts, Flowers turned to bobsledding, and found success as a brakewoman almost immediately. At the 2002 Winter Olympics, she, along with driver Jill Bakken, won the gold medal in the two-woman event, becoming the first black person to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics.