The revoking and returning of Jim Thorpe’s Olympics awards : 70 years of Native-American sports protest? / Fabrice Delsahut

Delsahut, Fabrice

James Francis Thorpe became the first Native American to win a gold medal for the United States… and the first person in history to be disqualified for professionalism. Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon. He lost his Olympic titles after an investigation by the Amateur Athletic Union showed that he had played semiprofessional baseball in 1909 and 1910, before competing in the Olympics. In 1983, the International Olympic Committee restored his Olympic medals. The seven decades that it took for the restoration of Thorpe’s medals were marked by a protean form of protest, drawing on the image of Thorpe as victor, victim, stereotype and symbol. Despite the rehabilitation of Thorpe, he remains in the eyes of Native Americans a powerful symbol of the humiliation of Native American peoples.


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