On This Day in History: August 3
Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics
Some consider athletes to be heroes; others believe them overpaid jocks; I think it depends. Historically, one of the greatest sports heroes ever was Jesse Owens, who issued a giant fuck you to Hitler by winning four gold medals in the Berlin Olympics.
--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: August 3, 1936--
Fucking Hitler. What a piece of shit. He took over Germany in 1933 and wanted the 1936 Olympic Games to be a testament to the superiority of his nation and his race, because that is what the games are really supposed to be about. That dumbfuck fascist even hurt Germany’s chances for medals by refusing to allow Jewish athletes, such as the high jump record-holding Gretel Bergmann, to participate.
Owens was already a track star leading up to the games; the previous year, in a period of only 45 minutes, he set three world records and tied for a fourth. The U.S. almost boycotted the games, because fucking Nazis. I’m glad they didn’t, because fuck Nazis.
On August 3 in the 1936 games, Owens won gold in the 100m dash. Then he went on to win the 200m dash, the 4X100m relay, and the long jump. He was the first American to win four gold track and field medals in an Olympics, a record not matched until 1984 by Carl Lewis, who did so in the same four events.
But it’s not all a happy story. While Owens was the star of the games and stole the spotlight from der fuckface führer, Germany did take more medals than any other country, which was a big propaganda win for the Nazis, especially when you consider that these were the first-ever Olympics to be televised internationally. And then America, which was and is racist as fuck, screwed over Owens.
The entire U.S. team was invited to compete in Sweden after the games, but Owens skipped that to return to America to take advantage of promised endorsements. Being Black, he had not qualified for athletic scholarships and instead had to work rather than attend school while training. The U.S. retaliated by yanking his amateur status, ending his athletic career.
The commercial opportunities didn’t materialize in the harsh reality of being Black in America, and he was forced to take on menial jobs and race against horses for cash. Things turned around for Owens in the 50s when the U.S. appointed him a goodwill ambassador.
Additional acknowledgement must go to Ralph Metcalfe, a Black man who was Owens’s teammate and friend. Metcalfe took silver in Berlin in the 100m dash that Owens won. Ralph went on to serve four terms in the United States Congress.
Subscribe for access to cool shit:
Get the book ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY SH!T WENT DOWN at JamesFell.com.