African Americans in Sports

  • Fredrick Douglas Pollard

    In 1916, Fritz Pollard became the first African American to play in the Rose Bowl and the first to be named All-American. As a Akron Prs player he went on to a seven-year career. He later played pro football with the Akron Pros, the team he would lead to the NFL (APFA) championship in 1920. In 1921, he became the co-head coach of the Akron Pros, while still maintaining his roster position as running back. He also played for the Milwaukee Badgers, Hammond Pros, and Gilberton Cadamounts.
  • Dehart Hubbard

    Dehart Hubbard won the long jump at the 1924 Olympics, He became the first black athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event. Hubbard set the long jump world record in 1925 (25-103/4) and tied the 100-yard dash record (9.6) in 1926. He was a three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association champion (1923 & 1925 outdoor long jump, 1925 100-yard dash) and seven-time Big Ten Conference champion in track and field (1923 & 1925 indoor 50-yard dash).
  • Donald Barksdale

    UCLA's Donald Barksdale, the first African American named to a U.S. Olympic basketball team. Donald Angelo "Don" Barksdale was an American professional basketball player. He was a pioneer with as an African-American basketball player, becoming the first to be named NCAA All-American, the first to play on a United States men's Olympic basketball team, and the first to play in an National Basketball Association.
  • Joe Louis

    Boxer Joe Louis became the first African American to play in a PGA sanctioned event. Joseph Louis Barrow, better known as Joe Louis, was an American professional boxer and the World Heavyweight Champion from 1937 to 1949. Louis' championship reign lasted 140 consecutive months, during which he participated in 27 championship fights, 26 championship fights during his reign.
  • James Harris

    James Harris became the first African-American quarterback to be a starter in the NFL, throwing for the Los Angeles Rams.Harris was drafted in the eighth round of the Common Draft by the American Football League's Buffalo Bills, and would soon join fellow rookie O.J. Simpson in the starting backfield. Continuing the American Football League's more liberal personnel policies, the Bills made Harris the first black player to start a season at quarterback and the second black player.
  • Greg Gibson

    Greg Gibson was the first African-American Greco-Roman wrestler (220 pounds) to medal, winning the silver.After college, Gibson won World medals in all three styles of international wrestling -- Greco-Roman, Sombo and freestyle. Gibson won three World Championships medals in freestyle, and three World Cup titles: freestyle in 1980, Greco-Roman in 1984 and 1985.
  • Art Shell

    In 1989, Art Shell became the first African-American coach in the NFL, taking charge of the Los Angeles Raiders. Arthur "Art" Shell is an American former collegiate and professional football player in the American Football League and later in the NFL, a Hall of Fame offensive tackle, and a two-time former head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He holds the His record was 54-38. He was coach of the year in 1990. He also led the Raiders to the AFC Championship game that year.
  • Tiger Woods

    Tiger Woods 1997 MastersIn 1997, California-born Tiger Woods became the first golfer of African-American heritage to win the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. He also became the first African-American golfer to win the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open, and the British Open. In capturing the Masters for a second time in 2001, Woods completed golf's Grand Slam to become the only golfer ever to hold all four majors championships at the same time.
  • Anthony Ervin

    The first African-American U.S. Olympic swim team qualifier and gold medalist in a swimming event was Anthony Ervin. Before a crowd at the Sydney, Australia, swimming venue, he won the 50-meter freestyle. He also was on the silver medal winning men's 4×100 m freestyle relay. The American team ended up finishing in 2nd place with a time of 3:13.86 behind Australia, who finished in a world record time of 3:13.67.
  • Barry Bonds

    Barry Lamar Bonds is an American former Major League Baseball outfielder. He debuted in the Major Leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986 and joined the San Francisco Giants in 1993, where he stayed through 2007. Bonds' accomplishments during his baseball career place him among the greatest baseball players of all-time. He has a record-setting seven Most Valuable Player awards, including a record-setting four consecutive MVPs.