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Jim Thorpe, Continued

Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox) won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympic Games in Sweden.  King Gustav V of Sweden told Thorpe, "You, sir, are the world's greatest athlete"

(c) State of Oklahoma, Photo Courtesy of the Oklahoma Arts Coucil

At the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, Jim Thorpe won the Pentathlon. The five events held in one day were the 200 meter dash, the 1500 meter run, the broad jump, the discus throw, and the javelin. A perfect score would have been 5 – Thorpe scored 7. Second place came in with a score of 21! Thorpe also won the Decathlon. His total score was nearly 700 points more than the second place finisher. His score was not surpassed until 1932.

Thorpe’s Olympic Gold Medals were revoked the following year because he had played minor league baseball in North Carolina prior to the Olympic Games, which according to the Worcester Telegram voided his amateur standing.  In 1983, after his death, replicas of his medals were given to his family.

Jim Thorpe later went on to become the first president of the National Football League in 1920.  He also became an advocate of American Indian’s rights, advocating the return of Indian lands, equal pay for Indians, and access to oil revenues.

“Thorpe was a proud man. Not conceited, he was never that. But proud. I remember very late one night Jim came in and woke me up. I remember it like it was only last night. He was crying and tears were rolling down his cheeks. ‘You know, Chief,’ he said, ‘the King of Sweden gave me those trophies, he gave them to me. But they took them away from me… They’re mine, Chief, I won them fair and square.’  It broke his heart and he never really recovered” (John Meyers, 1966).

In 1950, Jim Thorpe was given the title of the Greatest Athlete in the First Half of the 20th Century by the Associated Press.

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