Native Currents Update

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — 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 before the end of 2020. 

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” intiative is bringing attention to an injustice to Jim Thorpe's legacy

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. 
Throughout subsequent decades, Thorpe’s children and biographer Robert Wheeler and his wife Florence Ridlon convinced the IOC in the 1980s to reinstate his gold medal status. They eventually succeeded and his children were presented with duplicate gold medals in 1983.
 

However, the IOC did not go far enough.

They neglected to restore Thorpe’s records and relegated him to co-champion––the silver winners, the athletes he’d previously beaten, had their silver medals elevated to gold when Thorpe was stripped of his remarkable achievements. The IOC allowed those athletes to keep their golds. 

The “Take Back What Was Stolen” petition calls for the IOC to make things right, to take the necessary steps to correct history and restore Thorpe’s proper status as the sole gold medalist in both the decathlon and pentathlon.

You can sign the petition HERE.
 

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi Rickert
Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. He can be reached at [email protected]