What better way to celebrate the Olympics then to give cheer and remember past American Olympians of all races.
Within the next four posts we'll explore a chapter from the book Beads on a String-America's Racially Intertwined Biographical History
Best of luck Team America.
Do you know who was the first player of Asian descent to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft in 1992?
CONTRIBUTORS IN SPORTS
JHOON RHEE, Tae Kwon Do master and entrepreneur (born January 7, 1932,) Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee is known as the "Father of American Taekwondo." Rhee is largely credited for having popularized Martial Arts in North America. He trained with martial artist Bruce Lee to help him develop his kicks and he also trained Muhammad Ali for several of his fights. Rhee eventually awarded Ali a blackbelt in Taekwondo. In addition, he has also trained many U.S. senators and U.S. congressmen as well as their sons and daughters. In 1976, he also invented protective gear, Safe-T Equipment, made of foam-rubber for free-sparring. He changed the face of kata as well by choreographing the first kata to music which he called Might For Right.
Grandmaster Rhee was also the first martial arts instructor to put a high importance on education as well as martial arts instruction by demanding that each of his students must carry a B or higher level in school. This is now a crucial part of some martial arts systems in USA, deciding when one is to progress to their next belt level.. Jhoon Rhee is a member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame.
ROMAN GABRIEL (born August 5, 1940 in Wilmington, North Carolina) is a former American Football player. He is considered by many to have been one of the best NFL quarterbacks of the late 1960s and early 70s. A two-time All-American, he starred at quarterback for North Carolina State in the early 1960's and finished his career holding virtually every Wolfpack passing record. An academic All-American, Gabriel saw his jersey retired and presented to him by North Carolina governor Terry Sanford on Jan. 20, 1962 at half-time of an NC State-Maryland basketball game in Reynolds Coliseum. A first-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams, he went on to a distinguished professional career. Gabriel was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
LENN HARUKI SAKATA (born June 8, 1954 in Honolulu, Hawaii), is a former professional baseball player who played in the Major Leagues primarily as a utility player from 1977-1987 and was a member of the Baltimore Orioles 1983 World Series Championship team. After his playing career ended, Sakata coached in the minor league system, serving a stint as manager of the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies in 2002. After 2002, he returned to his previous position as long-time manager of San Jose Giants of the High-A California League, which he still coaches. Sakata was the starting shortstop for the Orioles when Cal Ripken, Jr. began his consecutive games played streak. Sakata is also the first Hawaiian born player to play in the Major Leagues. Sakata owns a small chain of high-end independent grocery stores in the Fresno, California area.
AKEBONO TARO (born May 8, 1969 as Chad George Rowan) is a retired sumo wrestler. Born in Hawaii, Akebono became the first non-Japanese wrestler ever to reach Yokozuna, the highest rank in sumo, on January 27, 1993. His name Akebono means "dawn" in Japanese. Akebono entered the sumo world in March 1988, at the same time as Takanohana and Wakanohana who became his great rivals as Yokozuna Akebono was often under intense scrutiny as the first foreign born Yokozuna. Akebono was a long standing and strong Yokozuna, lasting nearly eight years in the rank and winning the top division championship on a further eight occasions. His career highlights include the rare achievement of winning the top division championship in three consecutive tournaments. He also beat Takanohana and Wakanohana (brothers) in consecutive matches to win a Basho when all three ended up tied at the end of the 15 day tournament. He was however quite susceptible to injury because of his height and weight. Akebono was one of the tallest sumo wrestlers ever, at 203 cm (6ft 8in) tall, and also one of the heaviest.
RONALD MAURICE DARLING (born August 19, 1960 in Honolulu, Hawaii to a Hawaiian-Chinese mother and French-Canadian father) is a former right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Mets, Oakland Athletics and Montreal Expos. Darling is currently a broadcaster for the Mets. During his 13-year career, Darling amassed a 136-116 won-loss record including 1,590 strikeouts and a 3.87 ERA. He threw 13 shutouts in his career and was selected to the 1985 All-Star team.
GREGORY EFTHIMIOS LOUGANIS is an American diver of Samoan/Swedish descent, adopted by a Greek-American family. He won back-to-back Olympic titles in both the 3m and 10m events. He received the James E. Sullivan Award in 1984 as the top amateur athlete in the United States Greg Louganis was born January 29, 1960 in El Cajon, California. At age 16, he took part in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montréal, where he placed second in the tower event, behind Italian Klaus Dibiasi. Two years later, with Dibiasi retired, Louganis won his first world title in the same event. In 1978, he accepted a diving scholarship to the University of Miami where he studied Theater Arts. He would later transfer to the University of California, Irvine in 1981, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts.
JIM PAEK (Baek Jiseon) was born April 7, 1967, in Seoul, South Korea. He is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey player in the National Hockey League from 1990-91 to 1994-95.
EUGENE CHUNG (born June 14, 1969) is the first player of Asian descent to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft (1992, 13th overall by New England); All-Big East Conference selection at Virginia Tech.