JULY 7, 1912


Born May 28, 1887, in Prague, Oklahoma, Thorpe’s Sac-and-Fox name meant “Bright Path.  At Carlisle Indian School, he was on the track and football team.  A running back, he was an All-American in 1911 and 1912.  Turning to the 1912 Summer’s Olympics, he easily won both the Olympic pentathlon and decathlon–breaking the world record in the event.  Thorpe is the only person ever to win both at the same Olympics.  At the closing ceremonies, King Gustaf V of Sweden told him “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.”  Thorpe replied “Thanks, king.”  However, he was stripped of his medals in 1913 because he’d played minor league baseball for pay.  In 1950, the Associated Press named him the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century.  Thorpe died in 1953.  The Olympic medals were restored in 1982.  In October 2018, he posthumously became one of the first class of inductees into the National Native American Hall of Fame.

Source:  “Jim Thorpe begins Olympic triathlon,” History, 11/16/2009.  Retrieved 7/5/2019, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/jim-thorpe-begins-olympic-triathlon.  
Photo:  Author unknown, circa 1912.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.

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