- NAME: Jesse Owens
- OCCUPATION: Track and Field Athlete
- BIRTH DATE: September 12, 1913
- DEATH DATE: March 31, 1980
- EDUCATION: East Technical High School, The Ohio State University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Oakville, Alabama
- PLACE OF DEATH: Tucson, Arizona
- Originally: James Cleveland Owens
- Nickname: "The Buckeye Bullet"
- AKA: James Owens
- Nickname: "J.C."
- AKA: Jesse Owens
Best Known For
American track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. His long jump world record stood for 25 years.
Jesse Owens - Mini Biography (3:39)
A short biography of Jesse Owens who set records in high school and at Ohio State and went on to win four gold medals at the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936—in the face of Adolf Hitler.
A short biography of Jackie Joyner, who's considered by many to be the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century. Her gold medal-winning score from the heptathlon in 1988 still stands as the world record.
Adolf Hitler was leader of the Nazi Party and became Chancellor of Germany in 1933. As leader of the Third Reich, he invaded Poland, which started World War II. He orchestrated the Holocaust, which resulted in the death of 6 million Jews.
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While Owens helped the U.S. triumph at the games, his return home was not met with the kind of fanfare one might expect. President Franklin D. Roosevelt failed to meet with Owens and congratulate him, as was typical for champions. The athlete wouldn't be properly recognized until 1976,
when President Gerald Ford awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The mild-mannered Owens seemed not the least bit surprised by his home country's hypocrisy. "When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn't ride in the front of the bus," he said. "I had to go to the back door. I couldn't live where I wanted. I wasn't invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the president, either."
Following the 1936 Olympic Games, Owens retired from amateur athletics and started to earn money for his physical talents. He raced against cars and horses, and, for a time, played with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Owens eventually found his calling in public relations and marketing, setting up a business for himself in Chicago, Illinois, and traveling frequently around the country to speak at conventions and other business gatherings.
Jesse Owens, who smoked up to a pack of cigarettes a day for a good deal of his life, died of lung cancer in Tucson, Arizona, on March 31, 1980.
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