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Who was Jesse Owens? Jesse Owens was an African-American man who had a burning passion for the sport Track and Field and became a four gold medal winning Olympian in the year of 1936. You wouldn’t ever think a man like him, who grew up in the dirts and had an extremely poor home life, would turn into the man you are about to find out about.
Jesse Owens was born September 12th, 1913 in Oakville, Alabama where he started off working in the dry fields, picking 100 pounds of cotton per day. Owens came from a life as the son of a poor farmer. His mother was, Mary Emma Fitzgerald and his father was , Henry Cleveland Owens. Owens was a son of a laborer and a grandson of a slave. Growing up, Owens found a passion for running. You would always see him in the drys fields of Alabama running nonstop. Owens first severe hardship was taken place when he was only five years old, the day after his fifth birthday. Owens had discovered an abnormal bump on his chest that began to achingly nudge against his lungs. He had no idea what it could possibly be until it was progressing, so he went to his mother and showed her and because the family was so poor, they were unable to manage to get to a doctor because the nearest doctor was 75 miles away, they would not have enough time to remove it, therefore, his parents resolved the problem by operating surgery on their own. As Owens gritted his teeth on a leather strap, his mother used a sterilized and heated kitchen knife to begin the procedure. She made an engravinge into her sons’ chest to remove the golf ball sized boil. Owens bled for three days, and suffered from losing a large amount of blood but he eventually healed. Later on, he stated he believed he nearly bled to death and was very fortunate to live on. When Owens first started track, he struggled because his lungs were very weak from his childhood bouts with being prone to pneumonia. Not only did Owens have health issues, but he also struggled in school. Owens had a hard time reading and learning math, those subjects were never his strong suit, but what was, was physical education. He always excelled in that area. He would constantly tell his fellow classmates to race him in sprints. Owens was never beat. That’s when coach Charles Riley recognized his amazing ability to run and wanted to see Owens excelle in running. In 1928, he set a new world record for Junior High in high jump at 6 feet, and in long jump at 22 feet, 11 and ¾ inches. His running career wasn’t noticed entirely until his high school years. While in his high school years he was competing against the best High School track and field athletes from across the country. He competed at the 1933 National High School Interscholastic Championship in Chicago, an event that catapulted his career and instantly put him in the limelight. He earned national attention for creating the world record in the 100-yard dash and his impressive performance in long jump which back then was called broad jump. He then enrolled at the Ohio State University to pursue his career as an athlete. Popularly referred to as ‘Buckeye Bullet’, he won four individual events at the NCAA championships in 1935, thus creating a major record. In early 1900’s, the majority of the athletes were all white so when Owens came into competition, he was treated differently just for the fact that he wasn’t white. When Owens was the captain of the varsity team at Ohio State, he was unable to live in the on-campus dorms because of his ethnicity. Taking into consideration all of the troubles Jesse Owens had faced and continued to faced, he never let anything get in his way. He was always focused on his running and building a stronger love for the sport track and field.
First day of competition was coming up quickly. Jesse had began preparing for it, knowing what he was about to take on. August 2nd, 1936 in Berlin, Germany it was the first day of Olympic competition. January 1933, i attempt to stave off a political crisis, President Von Hindenburg appointed Hitler, leader of the National Socialist of German workers party, as the country’s new chancellor. Therefore, Owens knew that Hitler would be there at the Olympics to watch him perform. Also, the same time the Olympics were going on, the Boycott was taken place. The Montgomery Boycott was a civil-rights protest during which African Americans refused to ride the city buses in Montgomery, Alabama to protest segregated seating.African Americans were treated so poorly.
As Jesse Owens was on the track, getting ready to race, he stayed focused and tuned out all the hate and the underestimation. Hitler underestimated Jesse Owens in what he was able to bring to the table in competition because he was African-American and he was competing against Hitler’s people so that ticked Hitler off. Prior to Hitler being mad that Owens was able to run against white people, he was already upset prior to that for the fact that the U.S team had refused to salute to Hitler. German crowd was very displeased. Hitler did not see the 1936 Olympics being important. Whatever Hitler did, he was never able to touch Owens and bring him down. No matter how hard he tried. Jesse Owens claimed that he was never nervous before competing. When Owens finished his races and received a gold medal in each event, Hitler’s reaction was a smile and he was reasonably impressed. Although, he did refuse to stay for his award ceremony. It is crazy to think that somebody that was so underestimated and put down, came back ten times stronger and showed the world that no matter who is against you, you always have yourself and that is all you need and Jesse Owens proved that to the world. In spite of the fact that Hitler intended the 1936 Berlin Games to be an experimentation for Nazi philosophy of Aryan Racial Supremacy, it was a black man who left the biggest significance on that years games.
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