Douglas, Robert L.

Douglas, Robert L.

(1882–1979) basketball coach, promoter; born in St. Kitts, British West Indies. He was brought to the U.S.A. at age four, and although drawn to athletics as a youth, did not have the advantage of high school or college. In 1922, he organized the Renaissance Five, a basketball team composed entirely of African-Americans. Soon known as "the Rens," the team was based in New York City but spent most of the time on the road where it had to endure racial discrimination and outright antagonism; it inspired the formation of other all-black teams—including the Harlem Globetrotters—and gradually became one of the winningest teams ever, winning 2,318 games in their 22 years and taking the first World Tournament in Chicago in 1939. Douglas was legendary for his integrity and leadership and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971.
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