February 2016 is Black History Month in the USA and Canada, and is a perfect time to have a look back at 5 of the greatest African-American sportsmen in history. Sit back and enjoy…
The first man I will look at is Michael Jordan, who made the NBA famous the world over for its fast action and supremely skilled players. Jordan played professionally for over 10 years. He has five NBA MVP awards, and has won six NBA titles. Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. As well as on the court, Jordan’s shoes: Air Jordan, are still one of the top selling athletic shoes to date, and have helped make Nike the company it is today.
The second man I’m going to put into my list is Tiger Woods. Arguably the best golfer ever, and definitely the world no. 1 between 1996 and 2009. In this 13 year span, Woods won an unbelievable number of titles. These include: 14 major titles, 17 PGA wins and 16 World Golf Championships. He also holds many records, most of which were held previously by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus. Woods also brought the sport of golf to the world, with video game franchises and magazine articles read by millions the world over. He is probably the most famous golfer in modern history.
The third man I will put into my list is Muhammad Ali; the African-American boxer who changed sport, and America, forever. He captured the eyes and hearts of millions of people around the world, and would still be named today as the most famous boxer ever. His record in professional career is 56-5, with 37 KO’s, and he has fought against men like Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Floyd Patterson. Ali is the living embodiment of fighting spirit, and has inspired generations of sportspeople to come. That is why he is on my list.
The next sportsman I will look at is the great Jackie Robinson, who changed the world forever and is one of the most influential people of all time. His views and actions towards racial segregation in the 1930s and 1940s on the sports field helped people like MLK become what they are today. Robinson was the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports, and after WWII, he was selected to play for MLB team Los Angeles Dodgers. Over his career, he received many injuries and death threats because of his skin color, but Robinson managed to push through it all and become one of the greatest MLB players of all time.
The fifth and final person in my list is Jesse Owens, the African-American athlete who entertained the world with his heroic actions at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. At the time, Hitler was in power, and selected all of his finest athletes for the games, boasting that they could not be beaten. Along came Owens, and he took the world, and Hitler by storm. He got 4 gold medals, all in events the Germans were considered to be unbeatable at, and his long jump world record which he set at the games was held for 25 years, finally broken in 1961. Jesse Owens gave the world something to laugh about during the tough times of the WWII, and he will always be remembered for it.
So there you have it – my list. Some of the most awe inspiring athletes to ever grace the planet. A mixture of courage and determination is what kept them all going, so that they could beat a common enemy; racism.
Stand up to racism this Black History Month. October will be the BHM in Britain this year…
If you have any other ideas for sporting top tens you would like to see, please leave a comment below.