Owens, Jesse

Owens, Jesse

Owens, Jesse, 1913-80, U.S. track star, b. Alabama. He was also called John Cleveland Owens, although his original name was said to be simply J. C. Owens. After his family moved to Cleveland he excelled at track and field events in high school. He won the broad-jump titles at the outdoor (1933-34) and indoor (1934-35) meets of the National Amateur Athletic Union, and while on the track team of Ohio State Univ., he broke (1935-36) several world records at broad jumping, hurdle racing, and flat racing. At the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, Owens astounded the world and upset Hitler's "Aryan" theories by equaling the world mark (10.3 sec) in the 100-meter race, by breaking world records in the 200-meter race (20.7 sec) and in the broad jump (26 ft 53/8 in./8.07 m) and by winning also (along with Ralph Metcalfe and others) the 400-meter relay race. His records lasted for more than 20 years. Owens later participated in professional exhibitions and in various business enterprises. He was secretary of the Illinois Athletic commission until 1955 and later became active in the Illinois youth commission.

See his semiautobiographical Blackthink: My Life as Black Man and White Man (1970).

orig. James Cleveland Owens

Jesse Owens, 1936.

(born Sept. 12, 1913, Oakville, Ala., U.S.—died March 31, 1980, Phoenix, Ariz.) U.S. track-and-field athlete. At Ohio State University in 1935, he broke or equaled four world track records in one day, setting a new long-jump record that would stand for 25 years. In the 1936 Olympics in Berlin he won four gold medals, tying the Olympic record in the 100-m run, breaking the Olympic record in the 200-m run, running the final segment for the world-record-breaking U.S. 400-m relay team, and breaking the listed world record for the long jump. This performance by an African American dramatically foiled Adolf Hitler's intention to use the games to show Aryan racial superiority. For a time, Owens held alone or shared the world records for all sprint distances recognized by the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

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Owens is a traditional Welsh surname found in the UK. The name's original roots come from Wales. Owens, son of Owen, is an old personal name from Latin Eugenius or Audoenus. Historically in Welsh Owen is spelt Owain.





  • Owens Corning, an American glass company. Hazel Owens Elementary (Tyler, Texas

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