Jim Thorpe

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Jacobus Franciscus "Jim" Thorpe (Sac and Fox (Sauk): Wa-Tho-Huk) (May 28, 1888 – March 28, 1953)[1] was an American athlete of mixed ancestry (mixed Caucasian and American Indian). Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals for the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played American football (collegiate and professional), and also played professional baseball and basketball. He lost his Olympic titles after it was found he was paid for playing two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics, thus violating the amateurism rules.

Of Native American and European American ancestry, Thorpe grew up in the Sac and Fox nation in Oklahoma. He played as part of several All-American Indian teams throughout his career, and "barnstormed" (played mainly in small towns) as a professional basketball player with a team composed entirely of American Indians.

His professional sports career ended during the Great Depression; and Thorpe struggled to earn a living after that. He worked several odd jobs, struggled with alcoholism, and lived his last years in failing health and poverty. In 1983, 30 years after his death, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) restored his former Olympic medals to him.


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