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'World's Greatest Athlete' May See Justice 100 Years On

Jim Thorpe was stripped of his 1912 Olympic golds
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2020 1:05 PM CST

(Newser) – A Native American athlete whose gold medals were infamously stripped from him in the wake of a scandal following the 1912 Stockholm Olympics is getting a renewed push for justice more than a century later. Jim Thorpe, widely viewed as the greatest athlete of his day, handily clinched that year's pentathlon and decathlon golds only to see them both taken away when it was revealed six months later he'd previously earned money as a minor league baseball player, violating the day's strict rules on amateurism. When an investigation found that Thorpe's short time as a pro was not revealed in the timeframe required by the Olympic rules, Thorpe was dubbed co-champion of both events in the 1980s. Per the New York Times, American member of the International Olympic Committee Anita de Frantz has asked the committee to reconsider the matter in a bid to name Thorpe the year's sole winner.

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A decision is possible by the end of the year. Separately, the AP reported in July that a petition aimed at naming Thorpe as the year's sole gold medalist in both his events had been launched; it currently has 65,000 signatures. Thorpe pushed past his scandal and went on to become first a pro baseball player and then a pro football player for several teams including the New York Giants, not retiring until the age of 41. Thorpe would then serve as the first president of what later became the NFL and was voted as a charter member of its Hall of Fame in 1963. When he died in 1953, his New York Times obituary called Thorpe "probably the greatest natural athlete the world had seen in modern times." (Read more about the strange saga of Jim Thorpe's life.)

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