Jesse Owens known as the Black Magic is best remembered for his performance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He was the first American track and field athlete to win four gold medals at a single Olympic Games. Read on to find out more facts about Jesse Owens.
James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was a four-time gold medalist in the 1936 Summer Olympics in track & field. Here in this article, we look at the most important facts about Jesse Owens, the legendary American athlete.
At the 1935 Big Ten track meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he established three world marks and tied another in less than an hour—a performance that has never been matched and has been dubbed "the finest 45 minutes ever in sports."
He became famous across the world after earning 4 gold medals in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany: 100 meters, long jump, 200 meters, and four-man 100-meter race.
He was the Olympics' most accomplished competitor and was praised with "single-handedly shattering Hitler's fantasy of Aryan superiority" as a black American man, despite the fact that he "wasn't summoned to the White House to exchange pleasantries with Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, either."
The Jesse Owens Trophy is USA Track and Field's top honor for the finest track and field competitor of the year. According to ESPN, Owens is the sixth finest North American sportsman of the twentieth century and the best in his discipline. He was one of six finalists for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Century award in 1999.
The first fact about Jesse Owens is that he excelled in sprinting and the long jump, and was dubbed "probably the best and most recognized competitor in track and field history" during his career.
Jesse Owens, also called as J.C., was born on September 12, 1913, in Oakville, Alabama, to Henry Cleveland Owens (a sharecropper) and Mary Emma Fitzgerald. He was the last of 10 kids (3 girls and 7 boys). Jesse Owens was a slave's grandson.
Jesse Owens parents
, it is worth mentioning that he and his parents migrated to Cleveland, Ohio, at the age of nine, as part of the Great Exodus, when 1.5 million African Americans fled the divided South for the urban and industrial North in search of better prospects.
When his new teacher requested his name (to record in the roll book), he answered "J.C.", but she mistook him for "Jesse" because of his thick Southern accent. He was recognized as Jesse Owens for the rest of his life because of the name.
Jesse Owens childhood
, it should be mentioned that he did a variety of lowly jobs as a kid, including delivering groceries, loading freight cars, and working at a shoe repair business, all while his father and elder brother worked at a steel factory.
Owens discovered he had a liking for running at this time. Owens credited his sporting achievement to the support of Charles Riley, his junior high school track manager at Fairmount Junior High School, throughout his life. Riley permitted Owens to train before school instead than after school since he worked in a shoe repair store.
Owens and Minnie were a couple. Ruth Solomon (1915–2001) met when he was 15 and she was 13 at Fairmont Junior High School in Cleveland. Throughout high school, they were in a committed relationship. Gloria, the couple's first child, was born in 1932.
Marlene was born in 1937, and Beverly was born in 1940. They wedded on July 5, 1935, and had two additional children together: Marlene was born in 1937, and Beverly was born in 1940. They were married till he passed away in 1980.
Owens, who began smoking at the age of 32, smoked a pack of cigarettes every day for 35 years. Beginning in December 1979, he was hospitalized on and off with a form of lung cancer that was particularly aggressive and drug-resistant.
Jesse Owens became the hero of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, as his series of victories scored a moral victory for African American athletes.
However, Owens struggled to find an appropriate job after the Olympics. He used his fame to his advantage and began working in public relations in the 1950s, traveling the country and making paid appearances at public events.
An important fact about Jesse Owens is that he initially gained national notice when a junior at Cleveland's East Technical High School, where he set a world record of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard sprint and leaped 24 feet 9+12 inches (7.56 meters) during the 1933 National High School Tournament in Chicago.
After his father got work, Owens was able to attend Ohio State University, ensuring that his family would be able to support themselves.
Owens, dubbed the "Buckeye Bullet" and coached by Larry Snyder, won a record eight NCAA titles, four in each of the years 1935 and 1936. (Only Xavier Carter in 2006 tied for the NCAA mark of four gold medals, however his numerous championships included relay medals.)
While smashing records for the Ohio State Buckeyes track team, he became known as the Buckeye Bullet. Although he was the first black man elected captain of an Ohio State varsity team, Owens was barred from living in the on-campus dormitory because of the color of his skin.
fact about Jesse Owens
is that he had to live off campus with other African-American players despite his athletic prowess. Owens was only allowed to order carryout or eat at "blacks-only" establishments when he toured with the squad. He had to stay in "blacks-only" hotels as well.
Owens did not earn a scholarship as a result of his achievements, so he proceeded to work part-time jobs to support himself while attending school.
The day Jesse Owens set four world records in athletics is commemorated as the 25th of May, 1935.
On May 25, 1935, at the Big Ten meet at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Owens earned track and field fame in a 45-minute stretch, setting 3 world marks and tying a fourth.
An important fact about Jesse Owens is that he established world records in the long jump (26 feet 8+14 inches or 8.13 meters, a world record that would remain for 25 years), 220 yards (201.2 m) sprint (20.3 seconds), and 220-yard low hurdles (not to be confused with the 100-meter dash) (22.6 seconds, becoming the first to break 23 seconds).
Both 220 yard records may have also smashed the metric marks for 200 meters (flat and hurdles), resulting in two more world records from the same events. Richard C. Crepeau, a sports history professor at the University of Central Florida, named these victories on one day as the most remarkable athletic performance since 1850 in 2005.
Walter Francis White, the secretary of the NAACP, drafted a letter to Owens on December 4, 1935, but never sent it.
He was attempting to persuade Owens not to compete in the 1936 Summer Games in Nazi Germany, claiming that a Black Americans should not support a racist dictatorship given the atrocities committed against his people by white racists in his own nation.
A boycott campaign gathered traction in the months leading up to the Games. "If there are races in Germany who are being prejudiced upon, the U.s should resign from the 1936 Olympics," Owens was persuaded by the NAACP. Despite the fact that he and others were labeled "un-American agitators" by Avery Brundage, head of the American Olympic Committee, they finally took part.
An important fact about Jesse Owens is that he and his American colleagues came in Germany on the SS Manhattan in 1936 to participate in the Summer Olympics in Berlin.
Owens came at the new Olympic stadium to a crowd of spectators, many of them were young girls shouting, according to fellow American sprinter James LuValle, who won bronze in the 400 meters "What happened to Jesse?
Adi Dassler, the creator of Adidas athletic shoe firm, met Owens in the Olympic village just before the games and convinced him to use Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik shoes; this was the first endorsement for a male African American competitor.
Owens won the 100 meter dash with a timing of 10.3 seconds on August 3, beating colleague and college friend Ralph Metcalfe by a tenth of a second and Tinus Osendarp of the Netherlands by two tenths of a second.
A notable fact about Jesse Owens is that he topped the long jump on August 4 with a leap of 8.06 meters (26 feet 5 inches), which was 314 inches shy of his own world record.
He later attributed his success to the technical assistance he got from Luz Long, the German opponent he defeated. He won the 200-meter dash on August 5 with a timing of 20.7 seconds, beating compatriot Mack Robinson (the older brother of Jackie Robinson).
When team president Lawson Robertson substituted Jewish-American runners Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller with Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, who combined with Frank Wykoff and Foy Draper to establish a world mark of 39.8 seconds in the event, Owens earned his fourth gold medal.
"You'll do as you're told," assistant coach Dean Cromwell told Owens when he objected to the last-minute switch. Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, equaling Owens' record-breaking achievement of four gold medals.
fact about Jesse Owens
is that he established the world mark in the long jump with a jump of 8.13 m (26 ft 8 in) in 1935, the year before the Berlin Olympics, and it held for 25 years until it was surpassed in 1960 by fellow countryman Ralph Boston. Owens happened to be in Rome for the 1960 Summer Olympics when Boston won the gold medal in the long jump.
Leni Riefenstahl's 1938 film Olympia chronicles the long-jump won, as well as many other 1936 events. On August 1, 1936, Adolf Hitler, the head of Nazi Germany, merely exchanged greetings with the German winners before exiting the stadium.
Henri de Baillet-Latour, the president of the International Olympic Committee, ordered that Hitler receive every medalist or none at all. Hitler chose the latter option and refused to accept any additional medals.
Owens ran in the first (10:30 a.m.) and second (3:00 p.m.) qualification stages for the 100 meters final on Day 2 (August 2); he tied and surpassed the Olympic and world records in the first run, but the improved time was not acknowledged since it was wind-assisted.
Cornelius Johnson, Owens' African-American teammate, won gold in the high jump final (which started at 5:00 p.m.) with a new Olympic record of 2.03 meters later that day.
Despite the fact that Hitler did not formally greet any of the medal winners this time, the Marxist New York City daily the Daily Worker said Hitler welcomed all of the track winners except Johnson and departed the stadium after seeing Johnson's winning leap as a "deliberate snub."
Hitler was later accused of neglecting to recognize or shake Owens' hand (who won gold medals on August 3, 4 (two), and 9). At the time, Owens reacted to these allegations by saying:
Hitler had to be at the stadium at a specific hour and depart at a specified time. He had to depart before the 100 meters winning celebration [the event started at 5:45 p.m. But, before he departed, I was passing by his box on my way to a broadcast. He waved at me, and I returned the wave. Criticizing the "man of the hour" in another country, I believe, was in poor taste.
Robert L. Vann, an African-American newspaper editor, recounts watching Hitler "salute" Owens on winning gold in the 100m sprint (August 3) in a piece dated August 4, 1936:
I saw Adolph [sic] Hitler, salute this lad. I watched with a pleased heart as the kid who had been named king of the 100 meters event received an ovation like I had never heard before.
As a bright sun peered out through the clouds, I saw Jesse Owens being received by the Grand Chancellor of this country. I witnessed a large throng of 85,000 to 90,000 individuals rise to their feet and applaud him to the echoes.
"I really observed Hitler holding hands with Jesse Owens and praising him on what he had done," said Eric Brown, a British fighter pilot and test pilot who was 17 at the time but went on to become the Fleet Air Arm's most decorated living pilot in a BBC documentary in 2014.
In addition, according to an August 1936 story in The Baltimore Sun, Hitler sent Owens a memorial engraved cabinet portrait of himself.
Owens made the same accusation again on October 15, 1936, when he faced an African-American audience at a Republican event in Kansas City, saying, "It wasn't Hitler who shunned me; it was our president. I didn't even get a telegram from the government."
Hitler was alarmed by Owens' success at the games, which he was using to demonstrate the world a revived Nazi Germany. He and other officials in the administration had hoped that German athletes would win the games.
"Jesse Owens, the magnificent colored American runner, had a string of victories that irritated him much. With a shrug, Hitler described those whose ancestors originated from the forest as primitive; their physiques were stronger than that of cultured whites, and so they should be eliminated from future games."
Owens was permitted to travel with and stay in hotels with whites in Germany, at a period when African Americans in many regions of the United States were forced to remain in segregated hotels that exclusively accepted blacks.
fact about Jesse Owens
is that when he came back, he was met by Governor Fiorello LaGuardia in New York City. Someone threw Owens a paper bag during a ticker-tape parade in his honor down Broadway's Canyon of Heroes.
Owens was unconcerned about it till the procession was over. When he unzipped the bag, he discovered $10,000 in cash inside. Ruth Owens, Owens' wife, subsequently stated, "And he [Owens] didn't know anyone who was capable of such a feat. And, given the flurry of activity, he didn't see it straight away. He didn't pick it up until he was about to exit the vehicle.”
Owens was not allowed to access the Waldorf Astoria New York through the main doors after the procession, and was instead forced to take a freight elevator up to the reception honoring him.
A notable fact about Jesse Owens is that following his Olympic victories, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) never summoned Jesse Owens to the White House. When the Democrats approached Owens for assistance, he turned them down and backed Alf Landon, Roosevelt's Republican rival in the 1936 presidential election.
Following his return from Europe, Owens joined the Republican Party and was paid to campaign for Republican presidential contender Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election.
Owens said the following at a Republican rally in Baltimore on October 9, 1936: "Some claim Hitler passed me up. But believe me when I say that Hitler did not dismiss me. I'm not criticizing the President in any way. Remember, I'm not a politician, but the President did not send me a note of congratulations because he was "too busy," according to some."
According to Owens, the secret to his success was, "I tried to keep my feet off the ground as much as possible. Quick down from the air, and fast up from the earth."
The whole Olympic squad was asked to participate in Sweden after the games concluded. Owens chose to take advantage of his success and return to the United States to pursue some of the more lucrative endorsement opportunities.
United States athletic officials were outraged, and his amateur status was revoked, thereby ending his career. "A fellow seeks something for himself," Owens said, enraged.
An important fact about Jesse Owens is that he claimed that racial discrimination he had faced throughout his athletic career, such as not being eligible for college scholarships and thus being unable to take classes while training and working to support himself, forced him to abandon amateur athletics in order to pursue financial gain elsewhere.
Owens came home with four gold medals and international renown after the 1936 Olympics, but he struggled to find job. He worked as a gas station attendant, a playground cleaner, and the manager of a dry-cleaning company, among other occupations. He also competed in paid races against amateurs and horses.
Owens was barred from appearing at amateur athletic events in order to raise his name, and he discovered that commercial opportunities had all but vanished. He temporarily traveled with a twelve-piece jazz band under contract with Consolidated Artists in 1937, but found the experience unsatisfying. He also made appearances at sporting events such as baseball games.
Finally, in 1942, Owens was hired as an Assistant Personnel Director at Ford Motor Company by Willis Ward, a friend and former University of Michigan competitor. Owens eventually rose through the ranks to become a director, a position he held until 1946.
A notable fact about Jesse Owens is that he was Vice-President and owner of the Portland (Oregon) Rosebuds franchise when the West Coast Negro Baseball League, a new Negro baseball league, was founded in 1946 with Abe Saperstein.
He toured with the Rosebuds, occasionally amusing the crowd by competing in horse races in between doubleheader games.After barely two months, the WCBA was disbanded.
Owens assisted in the promotion of the exploitation picture Mom and Dad in African-American communities.
He tried to earn a living as a sports promoter, which was effectively the same thing as being an entertainment. He would start local sprinters fifteen or twenty yards ahead of them and defeat them in the 100-yard dash (91 meters).
An important fact about Jesse Owens is that he went to the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, where he encountered German Armin Hary, the 1960 100 meters winner, who had defeated American Dave Sime in a picture finish. Owens was recruited as a running teacher for the New York Mets' spring training in 1965.
Owens tried to make a livelihood by running a dry-cleaning company and working as a gas station attendant, but he finally declared bankruptcy. He was successfully convicted for tax evasion in 1966. He was helped to start his rehabilitation while he was at his lowest point.
In 1955, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Owens as a goodwill ambassador, sending him to India, the Philippines, and Malaya to promote physical activity while also promoting American freedom and economic opportunity in the developing world. In the 1960s and 1970s, he would resume his goodwill travels.
Owens maintained his product endorsement work for Quaker Oats, Sears and Roebuck, and Johnson & Johnson after losing his patronage post with the Illinois Youth Commission in 1960.
Owens flew throughout the world, speaking to corporations like Ford and stakeholders like the United States Olympic Committee. He owned racehorses when he retired.
Owens originally declined to embrace African-American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos' black pride salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics. He spoke to them, “The black fist is a symbol with no significance.
You have nothing but fingers when you open it - weak, empty fingertips. Only when there is money within the black fist is it significant. That's where the real power is.”
He changed his mind four years later in his 1972 book I Have Changed, “In 1970, I recognized that militancy in the broadest sense was the only option for the black guy, and that any black man who wasn't a militant was either blind or a coward.”
Owens was a privileged visitor of the West German government in Munich for the 1972 Summer Olympics, when he met West German Chancellor Willy Brandt and veteran boxer Max Schmeling.
A notable fact about Jesse Owens is that he had tried unsuccessfully a few months before his death to persuade President Jimmy Carter to drop his demand that the US boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics in criticism of the Soviet assault of Afghanistan. He said that the Olympic ideal was meant to provide a break from conflict and that it was beyond politics.
He died of the illness on March 31, 1980, in Tucson, Arizona, at the age of 66, surrounded by his wife and other family members. He was laid to rest at Chicago's Oak Woods Cemetery. The inscription on the headstone reads "Jesse Owens 1936 Olympic Champion" and is situated against the backdrop of the cemetery's lake.
Despite the fact that President Jimmy Carter had disregarded Owens' appeal to end the boycott, he paid respect to him after his death, saying, "Perhaps no athlete better embodied the human battle against oppression, poverty, and racial discrimination."
The dormitory where Owens slept at the Berlin Olympics has been entirely rebuilt as a living museum, complete with photos of his achievements at the games and a letter from a fan asking him not to shake Hitler's hand (which was intercepted by the Gestapo).
In 2016, the film Olympic Pride, American Prejudice chronicled the 1936 Olympic journey of eighteen Black American competitors, including Owens.
Jesse Owens social media
, it should be mentioned that he didn’t have any pages on any social Media.
Jesse Owens body measurements
, it should be mentioned that the American athlete was 5 ft 10 in (178 cm) and 165 lbs (75 kg).
At the time of his death in 1980,
Jesse Owens net worth
was estimated to be around $150 thousand dollars. From his primary career as a Runner, he had amassed a substantial fortune.
Jesse Owens' 1936 gold medal established a record for the highest price ever paid for Olympic memorabilia when it was sold for $1,466,574 at auction.
It will be used for a future instructional tour of historic items by new owner Ron Burkle, a wealthy investor and co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team.
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