JIM THORPE INFORMATION:
Jim Francis Thorpe was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma on May 28th,1888, a descendant of the famous Chief Black Hawk. As a youth he attended the Carlisle Indian Academy near Harrisburg. In 1912, he participated in the Stockholm Olympics. He broke record after world record, and set a point total unprecedented in the modern Olympiad. Jim Thorpe won every event in the pentathlon except the javelin throw. King Gustav of Sweden, in presenting the gold medals, said to Jim Thorpe,"Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world."
Soon after the Olympics, a newspaper reporter discovered that, while at Carlisle, Jim Thorpe had played a season of professional baseball for $60 a month. Despite the protestations of Jim Thorpe that he didn't know he was breaking any rules, the Olympic Committee stripped him of his gold medals on the grounds that Thorpe had forfeited his amateur status.
Over the years, Jim Thorpe continued to play professional sports, including the Canton Bulldogs football team. He also played football at Carlisle Institute and went on to play professional football and have a six-year professional baseball career with the New York Giants, Cincinnati Reds and Boston Braves. In 1950, he was voted the "greatest male athlete of the first 50 years of the 20th century" by the sports writers of the Associated Press. However, he had fallen victim to illness and economic insecurity. In 1951, he was a charity case in the cancer ward of a Phildelphia hospital. His wife, Patricia is reported to have said,"We're broke. Jim has nothing but his name and his memories. He has spent money on his own people and has given it away. He has been often exploited."
Jim Thorpe died on March 28th, 1953, and after being denied a memorial in his native state of Oklahoma, was laid to rest in a mausoleum in the town of Mauch Chunk, renamed Jim Thorpe in his honor. In January 1982, Jim Thorpe's amateur status was reinstated and in January 1983, replicas of his gold medals were presented to his family posthumously.
Though it has been reported that Jim Thorpe never got any closer to the town that bears his name than Carlisle, Pennsylvania, he actually got at least as close as Palmerton, PA, about 10 miles south of Jim Thorpe. He attended a sports award banquet in 1949 and was the featured speaker.
A movie starring Burt Lancaster was made of his life.
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