Category Archives: History

This Day. Jack Johnson demolishes Jim Jeffries and the racist myth of the ‘Great White Hope’

Jack Johnson | United States Library of Congress

On July 3, 1910 one century ago this day in Reno, Nevada, African-American boxer Jack Johnson knocked out the white supremacist Jim Jeffries, triggering a series of racist attacks across the United States; about 20 Blacks died, and hundreds were injured. Johnson holds a seminal position not only in boxing but also in athletics and in the movement for the rights of all. Continue reading

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This Day. Muhammad Ali takes his stand

Pele and Muhammad Ali

On June 20, 1967, the great Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston for refusing induction in the U.S. armed forces.

Ali saw the war in Vietnam as an exercise in genocide. He also used his platform as boxing champion to connect the war abroad with the war at home, saying, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?”

For these statements, as much as the act itself, Judge Joe Ingraham handed down the maximum sentence to Cassius Clay (as they insisted upon calling him in court): five-years in a federal penitentiary and a $10,000 fine.

Ali’s refusal to be drafted was an inspiring moment for many of us.

– Dougal MacDonald

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This Day. Tom Longboat Day

June 4 is Tom Longboat Day, which recognizes the life and career of one of the best distance runners to ever represent Canada. Winner of the 1907 Boston Marathon, Longboat is remembered for both his athletic achievements and innovative training methods. From the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve near Brantford, ON, Longboat faced racism and prejudice throughout his career, including being called lazy by the press and fellow competitors over his training schedule.

By introducing regular rest into his regime, however, Longboat had a competitive advantage over other runners, who believed that they had to train at maximum effort all the time. He had a better understanding of how to train for long races and, as a result, he was fresher and better prepared than his competitors. This served him well during his career as he was known for his strong finishing sprints.

In 1951, the Tom Longboat Awards were established to recognize Indigenous athletes for outstanding contributions to sport in Canada. In the new book Reclaiming Tom Longboat: Indigenous Self-Determination in Canadian Sport, Janice Forsyth explores the history of the awards and their place within the broader history of Canadian policy and Crown-Indigenous relations. The book looks at how sport has been part of colonization in Canada while at the same time it asks how it can be part of decolonization. Through both oral and textual sources, Professor Forsyth pushes the reader to think critically about sport’s role in Canada while also shedding light on an under-told story in Canadian sport history.

In this episode of the History Slam, I talk with Professor Forsyth about the book. We talk about her experience as a winner of the award, the place of role models in sport, and the use of mainstream sports in colonization. We also talk about sport and culture, the media’s role in telling athletes’ stories, and traditional sport and games and their role in decolonization.

Sean Graham is a historian with Parks Canada, an Adjunct Professor at Carleton University, and a contributing editor with Activehistory.ca

History Slam Episode 149: Indigenous Self-Determination in Canadian Sport

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Michael Jordan’s ‘Last Dance’: A celebration of the American nightmare

Michael Jordan

By Danny Haiphong

Michael Jordan embodies the kind of athlete and Black leader that the U.S. ruling class has gone to great lengths to cultivate.

Michael Jordan is perhaps the best player to ever set foot in an NBA arena or any arena for that matter. His achievements have inspired generations of fans and players alike. The Last Dance is a tribute to the greatness of Michael Jordan. In typical Disney fashion, Jordan’s legacy is framed as a tale of perseverance and hardship on the road to the American Dream. The documentary is a reminder that the making of Michael Jordan has always been a celebration of Malcolm X’s American Nightmare, and that this nightmare has come at great cost to Black America and the lives of working people all over the world. Continue reading

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Long before the Toronto Raptors the Edmonton Grads were champions

The Edmonton grads riding a float in the 1920s as part of a celebration of their wins.

Rather than the professionals in Toronto, the exhibit honours a remarkable group of trailblazing women who dominated the game at a time when sport was considered the exclusive domain of men. Continue reading

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Ice breakers, a short documentary about Black hockey players then and now

 
Photo NFB

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – At this summer’s 2019 FIN Atlantic International Film Festival, three new shorts were screened that were part of the National Film Board of Canada’s Re-Imagining Nova Scotia series.

Filmmaker Alex Kronstein went to see all three of them, and here is his review of Ice breakers, directed by Sandi Rankaduwa, about a rising teen hockey star from Cole Harbour who is Black and dreams of playing in the NHL. Continue reading

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Cricket World Cup 2019: Facts and a very un-English history

BY TONY SEED*

The Cricket World Cup 2019 commenced on May 30 with England and South Africa playing the first match of the international event.

The 12th edition of the World Cup is being held in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14 with 10 national teams. Continue reading

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This day. The Black Power salute

1968.Black Power salute

October 16 marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Black Power protest at the 1968 Olympics 200m medal ceremony by African American athletes Tommie Smith (centre) and John Carlos (right), the gold and bronze medalists. Peter Norman (left), the silver medalist from Australia and an opponent of the White Australia policy, displayed the badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). This was – and is – a powerful example of defiance in the face of racist oppression, in particular, and for human rights for all, in general. Continue reading

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The sports industry, a gulf separates two worlds

(July 9) – Lightweight footwear under one hundred grams; swimsuits designed by experts in hydrodynamics that “cut” through the water with maximum efficiency; sensors placed in different accessories that calculate heart rate and provide other real time information; rackets that reduce vibration transfer resulting from the impact of the ball…  Continue reading

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When the Soviets beat Arsenal (1944)

Soviet Winners of the Shah of Iran Cup (1944)

(Translation and Research by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

One of the brightest page in the history of Soviet football occurred in late 1945, when Moscow ‘Dynamo’ toured the UK and played matches with the top English clubs. This was a time of great legendary football exploits, but history states that this was not the first time the Soviet Union had played Britain at football. Continue reading

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