John Woodruff has just passed away. He was the first Black man to win a gold medal, and he did so in front of Hitler at the Munich Olympics of 1936, challenging Hitler's twisted notion of Aryan supremacy.
One of the best parts of his win is that he was boxed in so he would not be able to win. So what did he do? He stopped. He let everyone run past him then went to an outside lane and ran past all including those who attempted to stymie him to take the gold.
In this video, John Woodruff himself discusses what it was like for him back then in the olympics and a still extremely racist United States.
John Woodruff, Sr., were it not for his career having been interrupted due to the occurrence of World War II, would be universally recognized as the greatest middle distance runner of all time, let alone of his own era. Having battled all manner of prejudice and injustice, and having arrived on the University of Pittsburgh's campus with literally 25 cents in his pocket, the track and field legend-to-be stood on the precipice of greatness when he arrived on campus as a gangly freshman. He will be best remembered for his 1936 800M Olympic Gold Medal, and not the world record that was stolen from him.