Jesse Owens

By Biju Manthuruthil

Life Brief

Jesse Owens was on September 12,1913,in Oakville,Alabama.He was the last of ten children of Henry and Mary Emma Owens.Up until he was 9,he lived in Oakville,but then he and his family moved to the East Side of Cleveland,where he went through school and finally Ohio State University. When he was in high school,he met his future wife,Minnie Ruth Solomon.They didnt marry until Jesse Owens was in the Olympics trials,after college on July,5,1935.He then had three daughters in his lifetime.Jesse Owens had multiple occupations,however,his main occupation was as a track and field athlete. But he did die of lung cancer on March 31, in Tuscon,Arizona.

Background Symbolism

The background relates to Jesse Owens because he was a track athlete.As said in his biography,"Sometimes,Riley entered him in the hurdles or the 440-yard run"(Gentry 34).He was put in multiple races throughout his career.


1. Jesse Owens went to Ohio State University.I found this interesting because OSU,is the enemy of U of M and MSU. As said,"Neverless, at Ohio State,a school where athletes-particularly football players- are treated like conquering heroes,he fit right in(Gentry 43).

2.He was one of the few African Americans to get into an American college,during his time. As said,"Jesse Owens was among the handful of blacks that enrolled in a American university in 1933,when the Great Depression caused an unusually low percentage of high school graduates to enter college(Gentry 43).

3.He participated in 1936 Olympics,right before World War II,in Germany."As the Americans packed their bags at the Olympic Village,they already looked forward to the next Games",and "World War II would put an end to any talk of a 1940 0r 1944 Olympics"(Gentry 73).


Jesse Owens was famous for multiple things,but some notable accomplishments included,breaking the world records for the 100 yard dash and 220 yard dash.While as getting four gold medals, at the 1936 Olympics. As said in the biography,"Jesse Owens had won his fourth gold medal,an unprecedented feat for a track athlete.He had broken Olympic records in all four events he participated in(Gentry 71).


When Jesse Owens was little,he suffered pneumonia every winter,but that wasn't all. All throughout his life had struggles with racism.When he was at Ohio State,he couldn't stay on campus because they didn't have housing for African Americans.After he finished the Olympics,he was attacked with deals and sponsorships. He tried to accomplish them all but he soon got exhausted with multi-tasking different things.In the biography, one example was,"A California orchestra wired him that it would pay him $25,000 just for introducing songs onstage for two weeks."Also,"All Owens wanted to do was get home,show those medals to his family,and rest a while before sorting out the opportunities"(Gentry 76).


A mentor of Jesse Owens was his first track coach,Coach Riley.The reason why he's so important is that he was the reason that Jesse Owens even ran in the first place.If the person that inspired a famous athlete to do their sport,isn't important then i don't know who is.In the biography, it says,"Whatever the reason,Riley called Owens into his office one day and asked if he would be interested in running a little after school.Thus began a career that would rewrite the records of track and field,shake up a dictator,and make the name Jesse Owens a household name(Gentry 29).


His awards were his gold medals,for when he broke some world records as said previously.He also got the award for Associated Press Athlete of the Year in 1936,and also the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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I picked Hermes' flying shoe because he's a the god for athletes in Greek Mythology,and also because Jesse Owens ran as if he was flying, because his feet rarely touched the ground when he ran.It says this in the biography as,"He told Owens and his other students to mimic the horses,to run as if the track were on fire,keeping each foot on the ground for as little time as possible"(Gentry 32).

Friend or Foe?

I would consider Jesse Owens as a friend,since we both had similar problems when we were very little.Also because he made friends with almost everyone he met,so he must've been a likable guy too.Lastly,I would his friend since he was a track and field athlete,like me,he could help me with my problems.

Most Like

The person that reminds me of Jesse Owens is Usain Bolt because both men held or currently holds the world record for the 100 yard dash.There's also the fact that both didn't start doing track and field,but rather each had a coach that inspired them to try track and field.Also,they both appeared in the Olympics,which was where they both broke most of their world records.


I say he's an altruist is that instead of spoiling himself with all the money he gained from all his endorsements,but rather he spent it all on his supporters and family.Another reason was that he didn't let all his fame corrupt him to be conceited,but instead he was a down to Earth guy.

Hitler's Worst Enemy

As said in the biography,"This must have been a rude surprise for Hitler. These Games were to have been führer's showpiece.But one man changed all that.One black American made a laughingstock of the Nazi's racist notions,throwing Hitler's challenge right back into his mustachioed face(Gentry 17). When Jesse Owens arrived to the Olympics,everyone expected the Germans to win,but when he ran his heats,that all changed,causing the German children to sort of go off of the track of the Nazi way.


Jesse Owens was 65 when he found out that he had lung cancer.After a speech in St.Louis,he had to leave the stage,and went to his doctor in Chicago.Jesse Owens had smoked for 30 years,but finally he had passed the limits for his lungs.That winter,he was treated,but the doctors knew he was getting weaker after each day. But alas when he was 66, he died at a hospital in Tuscon,Arizona. Two thousand people attended his funeral;Ohio Sate named their new track complex after him;scholarships,awards,and annual track meets were also named after him.Monuments were built in his hometowns,and in Berlin,Germany,they named the street leading to the Olympic Stadium after him.