- Egypt rights center raided, 2 Mubaraks acquitted
- New Mexico Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage constitutional
- Blame Bush: 5 years later, that’s still the mantra, pollsters find
- Dutch prostitutes demand same retirement benefits as soccer stars
- John McCain to Harry Reid: I’ll ‘kick the crap’ out of you
- Dogs that talk: Researchers seek $10K for ‘No More Woof’ technology
- 1,000 firefighters called to battle stubborn Big Sur wildfire
- Black Friday brouhaha: Millions of Target shoppers hit by credit card theft
- Britain orders airplane to rescue citizens from violent South Sudan
- Mega Millions winner emerges as Georgia mom, in ‘disbelief’
Jim Thorpe: Oral history project in 1960s becomes quest to right wrong
Question of the Day
“During the 1912 Olympic tryouts, Jim threw the javelin standing still. He didn’t know you could have an unlimited run-up approach. He didn’t have any sophisticated training. His was that of a 6-year-old boy growing up in the Oklahoma Indian territory, going on 30-mile hunts with his father and catching horses.”
A teenage orphan-turned-track star at Pennsylvania’s Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Thorpe was introduced to football by storied coach Glenn “Pop” Warner. As a joke one day, Warner tossed Thorpe a football and told him to run through a dozen defenders as “tackle practice.”
Thorpe proceeded to do so. Twice.
He went on to become a two-time All-American. He led Carlisle to victories over Harvard and Army, and biographer Kate Buford believes that he may have been the first collegian to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season.
Standing 5-feet-10 and weighing 185 pounds, Thorpe competed in as many as 20 sports in his lifetime, including basketball, boxing, tennis and lacrosse. He even won an intercollegiate ballroom dancing championship.
No matter. Thorpe went on to win both the decathlon and pentathlon by large margins over favored European competitors — in fact, the 688-point gap between Thorpe and Swedish silver medalist Hugo Wieslander remains one of the largest in Olympic history.
The king of Sweden famously subsequently dubbed Thorpe “the world’s greatest athlete.” He became an international superstar, returning to a hero’s welcome in New York City and a congratulatory letter from President Taft.
“For the rest of our lives and beyond, whenever the Olympic decathlon winner is crowned, somewhere in the news story there’s an obligation to call him the world’s greatest athlete,” Mr. Wheeler said. “Jim Thorpe was the first.”
“He played the same kind of role in refuting racial myths about indigenous people that [Olympic track and field star] Jesse Owens later did about African-Americans,” said Mr. Adams, whose initial curiosity about Thorpe’s Olympic exploits ultimately led to the “Best in the World” exhibit.
“Thorpe wasn’t the strongest man in the world, but he was certainly one of the most graceful, unquestionably athletic, and he had a natural ability to pick things up,” Mr. Adams said. “At the time, there were a substantial number of people who said that indigenous people did not have that ability.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
- Taking to Twitter: Everybody's Oscar night in 140 characters
- Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin cry foul at WWE Tea Party stereotypes
- Oscar Pistorius and the 'roid rage' defense: It's no Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card
- Spatial media: Astronaut Chris Hadfield live chats from 220 miles above earth
- Hero-worship for a cold-blooded killer: The cult of Christopher Dorner
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Fourth Amendment says Obama is not at liberty to collect metadata
- Calling sentence disparities unfair, Obama pardons 8 crack offenders
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Bill Gates: The Secret Santa disguised as a 'friendly fellow' on Reddit
- Armed response, not restrictive gun laws, brought swift end to school shooting
- Obamacare 'pajamas boy' gets roundly mocked
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson suspended indefinitely for gay quip
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- Outrage over Phil Robertson suspension, 'malignant' political correctness
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
Crystal Wright is a black conservative woman living in Washington, D.C.
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow