CITY Dozens of Chickasaw athletes will be among athletes
from across sixty other tribal nations competing this week in Oklahoma
City during the second annual Jim Thorpe Native American Games.
Athletes will compete in activities such as basketball, golf,
martial arts, wrestling, and softball at several sports venues in
the states capital and also in Shawnee for the chance to win
The games kicked off Sunday evening at Remington Park when Chickasaw
Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby proclaimed "let the games begin"
after a parade of athletes representing 61 tribes passed the reviewing
stand of dignitaries, including Anoatubby, Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Chief George Tiger, Thorpes son, Bill, and Sac and Fox Principal
Chief George Thurman.
Thorpe, considered the world's greatest athlete, was Sac and
Fox and was born near Prague. Sports fans polled by ABC Wide World
of Sports christened Thorpe the "Athlete of the Century."
In a 1999 poll, Thorpe finished the century as the third-best athlete
of all time among sports writers. Balloting favored baseball legend
Babe Ruth and basketball great Michael Jordan as first and second
in the poll, respectively.
Thorpe was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Football was his favorite sport, but he excelled in all sports he
than a century ago, Thorpe won gold medals in the decathlon and
pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics held in Stockholm, Sweden. He won
both events and two gold medals, having placed first in eight events
offered in the two categories.
No other athlete in history matches Thorpe's record of accomplishments
from baseball, football, basketball, lacrosse, handball, rowing,
golf, swimming and even ballroom dancing.
He was stripped of his medals after the Amateur Athletics Union
(equivalent then to the present day Olympics governing organization)
learned he played semiprofessional baseball prior to the 1912 Olympics,
thus making him a professional. While it is common today for professional
athletes to compete in the Olympic games, during Thorpe's day the
games were comprised entirely of amateurs. In 1909-11, Thorpe played
for a barnstorming North Carolina baseball team for $2 per game.
Through concerted efforts by relatives, teammates and writer
Robert Wheeler, his medals were reinstated in 1982, nearly 30 years
after his death in 1953. Thorp was 64 when he died.
Governor Anoatubby praised the competitive spirit and determination
that made Thorpe the world's best, telling this year's athletes
that what inspired Thorpe also inspired them to be the very best.