Jim Thorpe, Sac & Fox Indian, greatest U.S. athlete?

I just saw an excellent documentary on Jim Thorpe at a Native American film festival in Palm Springs California. Thorpe was a Sac & Fox Indian from Oklahoma and was recognized by Congress in 1999 as the greatest American athlete of the Twentieth Century.

Thorpe played football and track for the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle Pennsylvania around 1908-11. The team garnered national attention, and especially when the “Indian” school beat the mighty Army team in 1911 or 1912.

Thorpe then made the U.S. Olympic team in 1912, which were held in Sweden (although he was not an American citizen, the same as most American Indians at that time). He then accomplished something no one ever has: he won gold medals in the decathalon (comprised of 10 track events) and the pentathalon (comprised of 5 tracks events).

While handing him his gold medals, the King of Sweden told Thorpe that he was the greatest athlete in the world.

Thorpe’s medals were later stripped from him because he had been paid to play some semi-pro baseball around 1910. The Olympic Committee restored the medals to him posthumously.

Thorpe played professional baseball after that for the New York Giants and then returned to football and played on a team that was one of the forerunners of today’s professional National Football League.

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0 Responses to Jim Thorpe, Sac & Fox Indian, greatest U.S. athlete?

  1. The caricatures are ridiculous, exaggerated with the teeth, the nose and the mouth.

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