Black Athletes who changed the World

Athletes who Changed the World
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List of Black Athletes who changed the world

Black athletes and dark-skinned people in general and they are often subjected to prejudice for as long as American history goes. Standing up against bigotry and stereotyping, there are several black sports players who not only made a name for themselves in the books of the world, but also changed the very games they were a part of. From tennis to basketball to the Olympics, have a look at the athletes of yesterday and today who revolutionized the games they played and proved their merit to the world multiple times.

1. Althea Gibson


Gibson was not only an American tennis player but also a professional golfer. Before her time, there was no black athlete who crossed the line of colour in international tennis. In 1956, Gibson became the first black woman to bring home the Grand Slam title. One year later, she won the US Nationals and Wimbledon too! In her career, Althea Gibson ended up winning 11 Grand Slam tournaments, which qualified to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Even now, she is hailed as one of the greatest players ever lived. Some speculate that she could have easily beaten the Williams sisters at their game. Because of her taking the first step, many followed and made names for themselves in the

2. Serena Williams


Who does not know Serena Williams? The fact that the tennis star is a household name is
representative of her success. Serena, along with her sister and doubles partner Venus, is playing tennis since she was 10 years old. Notably, that was exactly when she started facing the racism that was thrown at her in the field. Because of her undeniable talent and resounding success in numerous tournaments, Serena Williams is an icon in the tennis world. Including 39 major titles, her list of accolades is just unending. Even today, Serena faces discrimination being a black woman who successfully runs her personal and professional life side-by-side. Today, while her career is still in full swing, Serena inspires young girls and boys to pursue their dreams despite any inhibitions that may spring up their way.

3. Usain Bolt


Although now retired, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt made a name for himself in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest man in a 100, 200, and 4×100 meter relay. Because of his consecutive success in the Olympics, Bolt is often commemorated as the greatest sprinter of all time. His legacy to this day motivates young Jamaican children to pursue their dreams and a career in sports.

4. Muhammad Ali


There is no question that the great Muhammad Ali is in a league of his own. He has professional boxer, an activist, and a philanthropist- and widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. His career in boxing is what made the game enter its ‘Golden Era’ at the end of the 20 th century. With his hundreds of titles and wins, Muhammad Ali’s legacy is his insistence that one can do anything with enough hard work and dedication. After retirement, Ali spent millions from his earnings on centres that focused on peace, social responsibility, respect, and personal growth. For his dedication to humankind, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities from Princeton University.

5. Earl Loyd


For people well-acquainted with history, it will come as no surprise that when the National
Basketball Association was founded in 1946, it was all-white. At the start of the 1950 NBA season, Earl Loyd became the first black person ever to appear in a league game. Loyd attended an all-black school in the era of segregation, and remained wary of being singled out and judged for his race and size. Because of his skill in basketball, he was finally awarded a scholarship to play for West State University, from where his career kick-started. People like Loyd, although not as well remembered as many others, make the world a more inclusive place just by paving the way for those after. What he and his contemporaries did for the NBA makes it what it is today, and the fight for equality is still going strong. Have a look at these anti-racism efforts in American Baseball at

6. Wilma Rudolph

Track and Field

The courage and determination that we see in this track and field star became evident in her early childhood when she contracted polio. Recovering gradually from her illness, Rudolph was spotted playing a basketball game by Tennessee State University’s track and field coach, who invited her to training camp. From there, Rudolph was just unstoppable.
At 16 years of age, she was the youngest member of the United States Olympic team eventually setting a world record for the 200 meters in 1960. Rudolph continued to play and won a multitude of awards-finally realizing her potential as an activist.

Read more: History of National Sports Day

In 1963, she sat in a protest against segregation of restaurants in her hometown, bringing worldwide attention to the cause. Wilma Rudolph’s story is an example of a successful athlete using her celebrity for the betterment of all.

The stories of these athletes are not only motivational for those interested in pursuing careers in sport, but for all those who want to learn from their example of love, kindness, and social responsibility for the entire humankind.

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