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Sports Then and Now



Celebrating Jesse Owens on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 3

Posted on January 18, 2016 by Mike Raffone

MIKE Comic 136 Jesse OwensTo celebrate Martin Luther King Day, allow me to acknowledge one of the greatest athletes of all-time.

This extraordinary man helped initiate racial dialogue in America way back then in 1936 and will unwittingly do so now 80+ years later when a major motion picture about his life entitled Race releases next month.

Before MLB’s Jackie Robinson, the NFL’s Jim Brown, the NBA’s Wilt Chamberlain or boxing’s Joe Louis, track star Jesse Owens was regarded as the USA’s first ever African American sports icon.

On our country’s national holiday, let’s remember this great American who flew past his competitors on the track and soared above the hate and discrimination that he faced away from it.

The son of an Alabama sharecropper, James Cleveland Jesse Owens battled pneumonia as a sickly child before his family moved north to Cleveland, Ohio.

Years later, a much stronger and healthier 5’10” and 165 lb. Owens blossomed as an outstanding track and field athlete at Ohio State University. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Jesse Owens: An American Hero 6

Posted on November 15, 2009 by Blaine Spence
Jesse Owens became an American hero at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Jesse Owens became an American hero at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Perhaps you have heard of Jesse Owens.  Back in 1936, he won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics, becoming the first American to do so.

Not only did he become the first American to accomplish this feat, he also sent a loud message to Adolph Hitler and his ideology.

Hitler was convinced that the white race (Aryan) was superior to all others.  This became all too evident in the horrifying discoveries of concentration camps near the end of the war.

In what sounds almost like a cliché, James Cleveland Owens was born on Sept. 12, 1913 to a poor sharecropping family, the grandson of slaves.

In trying to do what was best for the family, Owens’ parents (Henry and Emma) moved the family from Oakville, Alabama, to Cleveland, Ohio, when Owens was just nine years old.

Two things that would shape Owens’ life occurred from the move to Ohio.

The first being how he arrived at his moniker.  As a young boy growing up in the South, everyone simply called James by his first two initials, “J.C.”

Upon his arrival to the Cleveland public school system, his name quickly changed.

Apparently, when one of his teachers asked him what he preferred to be called, Owens replied, “J.C.”  His teacher mistakenly thought he had said, “Jesse” and James Cleveland Owens from that day forward became known as Jessie Owens.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

      Read more »

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