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Jesse Owens


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Jesse Owens was born on September 12th 1913 in Oakville, Alabama (USA).
He attended Ohio State University and was known as the 'Buckeye Bullet', winning 8 NCAA championships (4 in 1935 and 4 in 1936).
Due to racial segregation of the time and the fact that African-Americans were treated as second-rate citizens, Jesse had to live off-campus with the other African-American students. When he was attending athletic events with the Ohio State University team, he had to stay in a 'black-only' hotel and eat in a 'black-only' restaurant.
During an athletics meeting at Ferry Field on May 25th 1935, Jesse Owens set three world records (long jump, hurdles and sprinting) in 45 minutes.
Jesse Owens won four gold medals (100m, long jump, 200m and 4x100m relay) at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
Adolph Hitler had planned to use the Berlin Olympic Games to showcase the superiority of the Aryan race. Germany did lead the medals table, but Jesse Owens was the star of the Games.
Owens returned to the US after the Olympics. In order to make a living, Jesse raced local sprinters (giving them a head start). He also raced against racehorses.
Jesse Owens was made a US Goodwill Ambassador in 1966.
Owens met his wife, Minnie, when he was fifteen. They had three daughters, Gloria, Marlene and Beverly.
Jesse Owens died in Tuscon, Arizona in 1980. He had smoked all of his life and developed lung cancer. Owens is buried in Chicago in Oak Woods Cemetery.
Nick name "The Buckeye Bullet"
Jesse set or tied national high school records in the 100 yard dash, 200-yard dash, and the long jump.
After a stellar high school career, he attended Ohio State University.
On May 25, 1935, at the Big Ten Conference Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Owens broke three world records (long jump, 220-yard dash and 220-yard low hurdles) and tied a fourth (100-yard dash), all in a 45 minute span.
n his junior year at Ohio State, Owens competed in 42 events and won them all, including four in the Big Ten Championships, four in the NCAA Championships, two in the AAU Championships and three at the Olympic Trials.
In 1936, Jesse became the first American in Olympic Track and Field history to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad by winning four gold medals: 100 meter dash in 10.3 seconds (tying the world record), long jump with a jump of 26' 5 1/4" (Olympic record), 200 meter dash in 20.7 seconds (Olympic record), and 400 meter relay (first leg) in 39.8 seconds (Olympic and world record).
In 1976, Jesse was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award bestowed upon a civilian, by Gerald R. Ford.
Owens was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.
Owens captured four gold medals at a single Olympiad.
Owens said President Franklin D. Roosevelt, not Hitler, snubbed him.
Owens ran to gold in German-made track shoes handcrafted by the founder of Adidas.
A teacher's mispronunciation led to a name change.
His mother performed makeshift surgery on him with a knife.
In college Owens set three world records and tied a fourth within the span of 45 minutes.
Owens raced against horses for money.
The New York Mets baseball team hired Owens as a running coach.
There are enduring memorials to Owens in Berlin.
Leading up to the Games, there were concerns about the Nazi philosophy and the rule of Adolf Hitler. As news came out about Hitler's prejudices and policies, Owens stated, "If there are minorities in Germany who are being discriminated against, the United States should withdraw from the 1936 Olympics." Owens was coached to back off such statements and seize his moment in competition.
Owens was the first black captain of an Ohio State University sports team. He earned that title at a time when black athletes were not allowed to live on campus.
Before the 1935 Big Ten Championship, Owens fell down some stairs and hurt his back. He was advised to withdraw. He set world records in the 220-yard dash, the 220-yard hurdles, and the broad jump—and tied the world record in the 100-yard dash. That moment marked his rise to becoming an Olympic favorite.
Before the Olympics, Owens began losing races to Eulace Peacock. The AP selected Peacock as the favorite for the gold in Berlin, but Peacock was injured before the Games and did not compete.
Owens was one of eight blacks out of 383 United States athletes headed to the Games.
Owens said he would win three events: the 100 meters, the 200 meters, and the broad jump.
Here is a quote from the writer Guy Walters, speaking on American Experience, about how those in Hitler's Nazi administration thought of Owens. "We've got, you know, people like Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, looking at Jesse Owens, and he says, you know, quite openly, I think it's unfair, to have people like Jesse Owens competing, because you might as well have deer or gazelle on your team."
When Jesse Owens won the 100 meters with a world record equaling time of 10.3 seconds, Adolf Hitler refused to congratulate Owens. "Do you really think," the German leader said, "I will allow myself to be photographed shaking hands with a Negro?"
When Owens won the long jump, the blond-haired German competitor he defeated, Luz Long, hugged Owens and they walked arm and arm around the stadium together.
Owens and another sprinter Ralph Metcalfe replaced two Jewish runners, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, who were taken off of the 4x100 relay team. At first, Owens refused, but he was told he must compete. He did. After he won his fourth medal, he told friends, ""I feel bad for Marty and Sam."
When the young southern boy first ran in a junior high school track practice, the coach looked in amazement at the time on his stop watch. He checked the stop watch to see if it was broken or something.
Coach Larry Snyder knew he had a very talented and gifted athlete. But Snyder knew that Owens still needed some improvement. As a runner, Owens' arm movement was too short. In the broad jump, he did not start right, and his jump was not smooth. He also needed to work on his starts and endurance.
Later, his name was used to promote a chain of cleaning stores, and he was made full partner in the operation, returning him enough income to buy a new house. But the business suddenly went bankrupt and his partners deserted him, leaving him with a $55,000 debt. He managed to pay off this and his others debts by recruiting black workers for Ford Motor Company during World War II.
Owens eventually settled in Chicago. By this time he had become a charismatic public speaker, and traveled extensively, speaking about sports, civil rights and his own life. In 1955, President Eisenhower named him Ambassador of Sports, and he toured for he State Department around the world. Later, he started a jazz radio program and developed a public relations agency, finally achieving financially security.
His victories were especially important for the fact that Adolf Hitler had planned the games to occur in Berlin to showcase his Aryan ideals and the superiority of his people yet Owens, an African American, shocked the world instead. After winning gold in the 100 meters, 200 meters, the long jump, and the 4x100 meter relay
Owens was instantly America's trophy to show to the world. Amazingly however, the government never recognized Owens performances! Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to invite him to the White House or even to have honors bestowed for Owens. His successor, Harry S. Truman also refused to recognize him, and it was not until Eisenhower took office that Owens was named "Ambassador of Sports" in 1955.
Owens and Minnie Ruth Solomon marry.
Minnie Ruth gives birth to their first child, a daughter named Gloria.
Owens is appointed as an honorary page for a legislative committee at the Ohio Statehouse.
Owens finished his last quarter at OSU before the Olympics.
Owens becomes ineligible to compete for Ohio State due to poor academic standings.
Jesse signs a contract with Consolidated Radio Artists as an entertainer.
Owens files for personal bankruptcy.