- By Native News Online Staff
WASHINGTON — Anita DeFrantz, first vice president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), says it is time Jim Thorpe “be fully restored to his status as the sole winner of the 1912 decathlon and pentathlon.”
DeFrantz penned an opinion for The Washington Post last week that says justice is overdue for Thorpe.
“Justice is overdue for Wa-Tho-Huk, who was born in 1888 in Indian Territory, latter-day Oklahoma. The name chosen by his parents — his father belonged to the Sac and Fox tribe, his mother to the Potawatomi — was prophetic. Translated to English, it means Bright Path. For the convenience of those in power, his name to the rest of the world was James Francis Thorpe,” DeFrantz writes.
On July 15, 1913, Thorpe (Sac and Fox, Potawatomi) was awarded two Olympic gold medals at the Stockholm Olympic Games. When King Gustav awarded him two Olympic gold medals the king said to him, “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”
The next year after his Olympic victory, the IOC stripped Thorpe of his two gold medals and struck his name from the Olympic history books. Thorpe set incredible records in track and field.
The heavy-handed IOC measures came about because of a smear campaign that revealed he played minor league baseball prior to the 1912 Summer Games. Between 1909 and 1910, Thorpe was compensated for room and board. At the time, this was an infraction under IOC rules, which barred Olympians from participating in any sports for pay so that they could be classified as amateurs during competition.
“Not everyone understands the pernicious nature of discrimination that has been practiced in the United States since the 17th century. As one whose ancestry is African and Native American, I do,” DeFrantz continued.
A petition that calls on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to restore the record of Jim Thorpe as the sole champion in the pentathlon and decathlon events at the 1912 Olympic Games is still short of its goal of 100,000 signatures.
Launched in July, by Bright Path Strong, the National Congress of American Indians, and several of Jim Thorpe’s descendants, the “Take Back What Was Stolen” initiative is bringing attention to an injustice to Jim Thorpe's legacy.
CLICK HERE to read DeFrantz's opinion.
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