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Jesse Owens (1913 – 1980)


African-American athlete and civic leader; winner of 4 Gold medals in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany; he used the name Jesse beginning in childhood, when he gave his name as "J C Owens" and was misheard.
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Jesse Owens
To a sprinter, the hundred-yard dash is over in three seconds, not nine or ten. The first "second" is when you come out of the blocks. The next is when you look up and take your first few strides to attain gain position. By that time the race is actually about half over. The final "second" the longest slice of time in the world for an athlete is that last half of the race, when you really bear down and see what you're made of. It seems to take an eternity, yet is all over before you can think what's happening.
Owens quotes
I wanted no part of politics. And I wasn't in Berlin to compete against any one athlete. The purpose of the Olympics, anyway, was to do your best. As I'd learned long ago... the only victory that counts is the one over yourself.
Owens
We used to have a lot of fun. We never had any problems. We always ate. The fact that we didn't have steak? Who had steak?




Owens Jesse quotes
Joe Louis and I were the first modern national sports figures who were black... But neither of us could do national advertising because the South wouldn't buy it. That was the social stigma we lived under.
Owens Jesse
When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn't ride in the front of the bus. 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.
Jesse Owens quotes
It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler... You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn't be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Lutz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace. The sad part of the story is I never saw Long again. He was killed in World War II.
Jesse Owens
People say that it was degrading for an Olympic champion to run against a horse, but what was I supposed to do? I had four gold medals, but you can't eat four gold medals. There was no television, no big advertising, no endorsements then. Not for a black man, anyway.
Owens Jesse quotes
When I passed the Chancellor he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany.
Owens
She was unusual because even though I knew her family was as poor as ours, nothing she said or did seemed touched by that. Or by prejudice. Or by anything the world said or did. It was as if she had something inside her that somehow made all that not count. I fell in love with her some the first time we ever talked, and a little bit more every time after that until I thought I couldn't love her more than I did. And when I felt that way, I asked her to marry me ... and she said she would.
Owens Jesse
It's like having a pet dog for a long time. You get attached to it, and when it dies you miss it.
Jesse Owens
The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us that's where it's at.




Jesse Owens quotes
Another old friend gone!
Jesse Owens
After I came home from the 1936 Olympics with my four medals, it became increasingly apparent that everyone was going to slap me on the back, want to shake my hand or have me up to their suite. But no one was going to offer me a job.
Owens quotes
I decided I wasn't going to come down. I was going to fly. I was going to stay up in the air forever.
Owens Jesse
I'm old now. It's all right.
Owens Jesse quotes
It was bad enough to have toppled from the Olympic heights to make my living competing with animals. But the competition wasn't even fair. No man could beat a race horse, not even for 100 yards. ... The secret is, first, get a thoroughbred horse because they are the most nervous animals on earth. Then get the biggest gun you can find and make sure the starter fires that big gun right by the nervous thoroughbred's ear.
Jesse Owens
It dawned on me with blinding brightness. I realized: I had jumped into another rare kind of stratosphere one that only a handful of people in every generation are lucky enough to know.
Jesse Owens quotes
We'd get into these little towns and tell 'em to get out the fastest guy in town and Jesse Owens would spot him ten yards and beat him.
Jesse Owens
I realized now that militancy in the best sense of the word was the only answer where the black man was concerned, that any black man who wasn't a militant in 1970 was either blind or a coward.
Owens Jesse
People who worked with me or knew me still called me the "world's fastest human" because I almost never stopped. I'd found that I could get more done with no regular job or regular hours at all, but by being on my own, flying to speak here, help with a public relations campaign for some client there, tape my regular jazz radio show one morning at 5:00 a.m. before leaving on a plane for another city or another continent three hours later to preside over a major sporting event.
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