Jesse Owens

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Owens, Jesse,

1913–80, U.S. track star, b. Alabama. He was also called John Cleveland Owens, although his original name was said to be simply J. C. Owens. After his family moved to Cleveland he excelled at track and field events in high school. He won the broad-jump titles at the outdoor (1933–34) and indoor (1934–35) meets of the National Amateur Athletic Union, and while on the track team of Ohio State Univ., he broke (1935–36) several world records at broad jumping, hurdle racing, and flat racing. At the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, Owens astounded the world and upset Hitler's "Aryan" theories by equaling the world mark (10.3 sec) in the 100-meter race, by breaking world records in the 200-meter race (20.7 sec) and in the broad jump (26 ft 5 3-8 in./8.07 m) and by winning also (along with Ralph Metcalfe and others) the 400-meter relay race. His records lasted for more than 20 years. Owens later participated in professional exhibitions and in various business enterprises. He was secretary of the Illinois Athletic commission until 1955 and later became active in the Illinois youth commission.


See his semiautobiographical Blackthink: My Life as Black Man and White Man (1970).

Owens, (James or John Cleveland) Jesse

(1913–80) track and field athlete; born in Danville, Ala. After setting records as a schoolboy athlete in Cleveland, he attended Ohio State University; on one day (May 25, 1935), he set three world records and tied another in the span of about an hour. (His 26 feet 8¼ inch running broad jump was not broken until 1960.) At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, he disproved for the world Adolf Hitler's proclamation of "Aryan supremacy" by achieving the finest one-day performance in track history with four gold medals (100 meters, 200 meters, 4 × 100 meters, running broad jump); Hitler left the stadium to avoid having to congratulate an African-American. Although he gained worldwide publicity for his feat, back in the U.S.A. he gained few financial or social benefits and was reduced to running "freak" races against horses and dogs. After graduating from Ohio State (1937) he went into private business before becoming secretary of the Illinois Athletic Commission (until 1955). He made a goodwill tour of India for the U.S. State Department and attended the 1956 Olympics as President Eisenhower's personal representative. He returned to Illinois to direct youth sports activities for the Illinois Youth Commission. In a belated gesture of national recognition, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976.
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The award, presented annually to one world-class athlete based on their values of integrity, uncompromised sportsmanship, and excellence in athletic competition was created in 1981 in honor of the celebrated track and field star Jesse Owens.
Since the inception of the Jesse Owens Awards in 1981, no one has won more than Felix, 26, who also won in 2005, 2007 and 2010.
Jesse Owens only became well known after the event, when Hitler made such a fuss about a black man winning such a prestigious event in Germany.
In 1936, Olympic athlete Jesse Owens won the gold medal in the 100-meter race to claim the title of “World's Fastest Man.
As the 1936 Berlin Olympics approached, scientific explanations for black achievement continued in America, and, indeed, intensified following the success of Jesse Owens.
In real life, Kristian Keith is a South Los Angeles teenager who trains at the Jesse Owens Park pool.
But Jesse Owens, an African-American who grew up during an age of segregation, won four gold medals that year.
It is difficult for a reviewer to be objective about one of his own boyhood heroes, but Jesse Owens inspired two generations of aspiring track and field novices, and still has a loyal following today.
And it still ranks as one of the most eye-catching moments in history, as Jesse Owens won his gold and Hitler squirmed during the 1936 Olympics.
It is a long way from 1936 when Adolf Hitler would not shake the hand of the African-American sprinter, Jesse Owens, at the Berlin Olympics because he was black.
On August 9, 1936, Olympian Jesse Owens received his fourth gold medal.
Du Bois, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr.