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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

    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
      January 29, 2022 | 4:43 pm
      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

      Read more »

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