Jim Thorpe

Greatest All Around Athlete of 20th Century
James Francis (Jim) Thorpe (1887 or (88) - 1953) is considered by many to be the greatest all around athlete that ever lived. Though no birth certificate exists, Jim referred to the Shawnee/Prague area, Indian Territory, as his birthplace. He was raised Sac and Fox and called Wa-Tho-Huk (Bright Path).

 

Thorpe became the first Native American to win gold medals at the 1912 Olympics in pentathlon and decathlon. Beyond his track and field prowess, Thorpe played three seasons with the New York Giants, two of which the Giants were National League Baseball Champions. Thorpe was a collegiate "All American" and played professional football for six teams, being named the first president of the American Professional Football Association (which would become the NFL) and a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

 

He competed in boxing and lacrosse. Thorpe was the 1912 intercollegiate ballroom dancing champion. He dabbled in Hollywood as an actor.

 

At his death in 1953, citizens raised the money to have Thorpe's remains moved to Shawnee from California by train. Services were held at St. Benedict's Catholic Church in Shawnee. He was laid to rest at Fairview Cemetery. His remains were then moved to the newly named, Jim Thorpe, PA which resulted in lawsuits ending in 2015 when the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case to return his remains to Shawnee.



While receiving his Olympic Gold Medals, King Gustav V of Sweden congratulated him: "Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world."

Thorpe reputedly replied, "Thanks, king."