Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens - African American Men, Family and Family

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Jesse Owens Biography Stories 

Jesse Owens's Personal Details

Jesse Owens was a legendary track and field athlete who won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

InformationDetail
BirthdaySeptember 12, 1913
Died onMarch 31, 1980
NationalityAmerican
FamousAfrican American Athletes, Ohio State University, Sportspersons, Athletes, African American Men
City/StateAlabama
SpousesMinnie Ruth Solomon (m. 1935–1980)
SiblingsErnest, Henry, Ida, Johnson, Josephine, Lillie, Prentice, Quincy, Sylvester
Known asJames Cleveland Owens
ChildrensMarlene
Universities
  • Ohio State University
  • Ohio State University
  • East Technical High School
Notable Alumnis
  • Ohio State University
Birth PlaceOakville
GenderMale
FatherHenry Cleveland Owens
MotherMary Emma Fitzgerald
Sun SignVirgo
Born inOakville
Died at Age66

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Jesse Owens's photo

Who is Jesse Owens?

James Cleveland Owens, or simply Jesse Owens as the world knows him, was one of the greatest sporting legends who has to his name several world records and achievements. His achievements in 1936 Berlin Olympics track and field competitions remained unmatched for a large period of time, making him as the most glorious track and field athlete of his days. However, sadly, much of the recognition and acknowledgement came late in life or mostly posthumously for Owens, due to the racism meted out to African American community in those days. Nevertheless, one can never overlook or forget his contribution in the 1935 and 1936 Big Ten Championships and most importantly the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. His record at the 1935 Big Ten Championship in the long jump event with a leap of 8.13 m stood for almost 25 years before Ralph Boston broke it in 1960. Also, his four gold medals haul at Berlin Summer Olympics was equalled by Carl Lewis only in 1984. To commemorate his contribution and glorious feat in track and field, a Jesse Owen Awards was created to honor best track and field athlete by the US every year. It is the USA Track and Field's highest accolade that one can achieve. To know more about Jesse Owens life and sporting actions, read on.

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Childhood & Early Life

Jesse Owens was born as James Cleveland Owens to Henry Cleveland Owens and Mary Emma Fitzgerald in Oakville, Alabama. He was the youngest of the ten children of the couple.

At the age of nine, his family relocated to Cleveland, Ohio for better opportunities. It was while enrolling at school that his teacher mistook his name ‘J. C’ as ‘Jesse’, which remained with him for the rest of his life.

In his early days, he indulged in various odd jobs to earn money. During this time, he realized his passion for running, which was further propelled by Charles Riley, his junior high track coach.

While at school, he competed at the 1933 National High School Championship in Chicago, an event that pushed him to instant limelight. He earned national attention for equalling the world record in 100-yard dash and his impressive performance in long jump.

He then enrolled at the Ohio State University to pursue his career as an athlete. Popularly referred to as ‘Buckeye Bullet’, he won four individual events at the NCAA championships in 1935, thus creating a major record.

The big breakthrough came in at the Big Ten Championship, during which he created new world records at: long jump (8.13 m), 220-yard sprint and 220-yard low hurdles. He also equalled the world record for the 100-yard dash with 9.4 seconds.

Furthering the success of the year, he won two events at the AAU Championships and three events at the Olympic trials. At the end of the year, his record stood at participating in 42 events and winning them all.

Career

In 1936, he competed in the NCAA Championship winning four events yet again, thus making a total of eight event victories in 1935 and 1936. Same year, he also participated in the Berlin Olympics.

Interestingly, through 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler intended to showcase the Nazi German domination and power. Nazi propaganda created hype about alleged ‘Aryan racial superiority’. However, Owens, changed this perception by winning four gold medals.

He participated in four events at the Berlin Olympics, winning each of them. While at the 100m sprint he created a world record at 10.3 seconds, in the long jump with a leap of 8.05 m, he became the No. 1 player. He also won 200 m (20.7 seconds), and 4x100 m relay (39.8s).

Unlike earlier when he had to lodge in at ‘black-only’ hotels and eat at ‘black-only’ restaurants, the victory at the Berlin Olympics changed the perception of people as he was allowed to stay at the same hotel with other White athletes or eat at the same joint. He was also offered a sponsorship by Adidas athletic shoe company for promoting the Gebr�der Dassler Schuhfabrik shoes.

After the Berlin Olympics, the American Olympic team and Owens were invited to compete in Sweden. However, Owens decided to return to the United States in order to capitalize on his athletic success by gaining some lucrative commercial deals. As a result, he was ripped of his amateur status, which marked an end to his flourishing track and field career.

Owens was also not honoured by the then President Franklin Roosevelt who neither invited him to the White House as was atypical for champions, nor congratulated him for the superlative success. It was only in 1955 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower honoured him by naming him an ‘Ambassador of Sports’.

In 1946, he initiated the formation of the West Coast Baseball Association (WCBA), along with Abe Saperstein. Additionally, he became the Vice-President and the owner of the Portland (Oregon) Rosebuds franchise.

Through the later part of his career, he worked as an entertainer and sports promoter. He raced against racehorses and local sprinters to earn his bread and butter. He even ran a dry cleaning business and worked as a gas station attendant.

It was only later that the US government appointed him as the US goodwill ambassador. He travelled frequently around the country to speak at conventions and other business gatherings.

Major Wins

He created a world record in the 1935 Big Ten Championship in the long jump with a leap of 8.13 m that remained for 25 years until it was broken by Olympian Ralph Boston in 1960.

In the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, he participated in four events, winning gold in all of them and creating world record in two. This extraordinary feat in track and field was equalled only in 1984 Summer Olympics by Carl Lewis.

Awards & Achievements

In 1970, he was inducted in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

In 1976, he was conferred with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom. Same year, he was made part of the Olympic Order for his fight against racism.

Posthumously, he was bestowed with the highest US decoration, Congressional Medal of Freedom. An asteroid discovered in 1980 was named after him.

In 1983, he was inducted in the US Olympic Hall of Fame. He has to his credit two U.S. postage stamps, issued in 1990 and 1998.

Several streets, roadways, schools, institutions, parks and stadiums have been named after him to commemorate his contribution as a track and field athlete. A statue of him wearing the Ohio State track suit has been installed at Fort Huntington Park.

Personal Life & Legacy

He married his high school sweetheart Minnie Ruth Solomon in 1935, after years of dating. The couple was blessed with three daughters, one before marriage in 1932 and two later, in 1939 and 1940, respectively.

An avid smoker, he puffed a pack per day and continued the same for 35 years before being hospitalized for extremely aggressive case of lung cancer in December 1979.

He died on March 31, 1980,

Trivia

To earn his bread and butter, this Olympian track and field athlete raced against horses in the 100-yard dash. He won the race by using a simple trick of employing a starting gun to commence the race. The shot would startle the horse long enough to give him enough of a head start to win.

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Jesse Owens's awards

YearNameAward

Other

01976 - Presidential Medal of Freedom
0 1990 - Congressional Gold Medal

Jesse Owens biography timelines

  • // 12th Sep 1913
    Jesse Owens was born as James Cleveland Owens to Henry Cleveland Owens and Mary Emma Fitzgerald in Oakville, Alabama. He was the youngest of the ten children of the couple.
  • // 1933
    While at school, he competed at the 1933 National High School Championship in Chicago, an event that pushed him to instant limelight. He earned national attention for equalling the world record in 100-yard dash and his impressive performance in long jump.
  • // 1935
    He then enrolled at the Ohio State University to pursue his career as an athlete. Popularly referred to as ‘Buckeye Bullet’, he won four individual events at the NCAA championships in 1935, thus creating a major record.
  • // 1935
    He married his high school sweetheart Minnie Ruth Solomon in 1935, after years of dating. The couple was blessed with three daughters, one before marriage in 1932 and two later, in 1939 and 1940, respectively.
  • // 1936
    In 1936, he competed in the NCAA Championship winning four events yet again, thus making a total of eight event victories in 1935 and 1936. Same year, he also participated in the Berlin Olympics.
  • // 1936
    Interestingly, through 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler intended to showcase the Nazi German domination and power. Nazi propaganda created hype about alleged ‘Aryan racial superiority’. However, Owens, changed this perception by winning four gold medals.
  • // 1936
    In the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, he participated in four events, winning gold in all of them and creating world record in two. This extraordinary feat in track and field was equalled only in 1984 Summer Olympics by Carl Lewis.
  • // 1946
    In 1946, he initiated the formation of the West Coast Baseball Association (WCBA), along with Abe Saperstein. Additionally, he became the Vice-President and the owner of the Portland (Oregon) Rosebuds franchise.
  • // 1970
    In 1970, he was inducted in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
  • // 1976
    In 1976, he was conferred with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom. Same year, he was made part of the Olympic Order for his fight against racism.
  • // 31st Mar 1980
    He died on March 31, 1980,

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Jesse Owens's FAQ

  • What is Jesse Owens birthday?

    Jesse Owens was born at 1913-09-12

  • When was Jesse Owens died?

    Jesse Owens was died at 1980-03-31

  • Where was Jesse Owens died?

    Jesse Owens was died in Tucson

  • Which age was Jesse Owens died?

    Jesse Owens was died at age 66

  • Where is Jesse Owens's birth place?

    Jesse Owens was born in Oakville

  • What is Jesse Owens nationalities?

    Jesse Owens's nationalities is American

  • Who is Jesse Owens spouses?

    Jesse Owens's spouses is Minnie Ruth Solomon (m. 1935–1980)

  • Who is Jesse Owens siblings?

    Jesse Owens's siblings is Ernest, Henry, Ida, Johnson, Josephine, Lillie, Prentice, Quincy, Sylvester

  • Who is Jesse Owens childrens?

    Jesse Owens's childrens is Marlene

  • What was Jesse Owens universities?

    Jesse Owens studied at Ohio State University, Ohio State University, East Technical High School

  • What was Jesse Owens notable alumnis?

    Jesse Owens's notable alumnis is Ohio State University

  • Who is Jesse Owens's father?

    Jesse Owens's father is Henry Cleveland Owens

  • Who is Jesse Owens's mother?

    Jesse Owens's mother is Mary Emma Fitzgerald

  • What is Jesse Owens's sun sign?

    Jesse Owens is Virgo