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Jim Thorpe Epilogue

Replica of Jim Thorpe's Olympic medal

Ironic things do happen and one such irony occurred just an hour ago, so here I am writing about it.

In a nutshell, one of our readers sent me an email with a link to a NY Times article, Jim Thorpe Is Restored as Sole Winner of 1912 Olympic Gold Medals.

Ironic, because I was just looking through the files on my computer, looking to free up some disk space — and I saw that my largest folder, at a whopping 56 gigs, was on Jim Thorpe.

For those who haven't known me that long, before moving to California in 2015, I was a journalist in the town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Between 2000 and 2015, I had written around 200 stories on both the town and its namesake.

The town, previously known as Mauch Chunk, was renamed for the Olympic athlete in 1954 — long after his fame as an Olympian who had lost his medals, but went on as a professional baseball and football player, as well as a stunt coach in 50 films.

But he never earned nor saved much and when he died, his third wife decided to shop his body for a place that would properly honor him.

The town of Mauch Chunk, once the financial hub of a wealthy anthracite industry, had fallen on hard times as the world converted to an oil economy.

Back to the story — after winning the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics, Thorpe mentioned to a reporter that he had kept in practice by playing baseball in North Carolina during the summers between semesters.

After the story ran, some cited Thorpe as being a "professional" athlete — which was not allowed. His medals were taken away — some thought that he was given unfair treatment because he was a poor Native American and unaware of such requirements.

In the 1980s, his family was able to get the International Olympic Committee to recognize his win and he was credited as a co-winner.

In this latest turn, The IOC now recognizes Jim Thorpe as the sole winner in both events.

I can now get back to freeing up some space on my hard drive.

~ Al Zagofsky









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