James Francis Thorpe Historical Marker (2023)

Jim Thorpe in Carbon County, Pennsylvania — TheAmericanNortheast (Mid-Atlantic)


“Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.”
King Gustav V of Sweden

Born in Oklahoma Territory in 1888, Jim Thorpe was a member of the Sac and Fox tribe. Prophetically named Wa-tho-huck (Bright Path) by his mother, he was to permanently emblazon his name, in the letters of gold, upon the pages of the sporting world’s ledger of champions. No athlete has ever surpassed his genius for versatility. Besides being the mightiest all-around football and track and field competitor in history and a Major League baseball player, he was the captain of the Carlisle Indian school basketball team, playing all positions. He was a member of the school’s lacrosse team, and it’s acknowledged superior tennis and handball player. He could bowl in the 200’s and shoot golf in the 70’s, although he seldom played. He was a fine swimmer and a standout in billiards. Gymnastics, rowing, hockey and figure skating round out the known list of sports in which he excelled. Because of his early environment, he was well versed in marksmanship, hunting, fishing, archery and general forest lore. As if to prove the point, Jim was even a dance champion.

The only one ever to win the ten-event Olympic Decathlon and five-event Pentathlon, Jim remembers the presentation of the gold medals by King

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(Video) Jim Thorpe: World’s Greatest Athlete Gustav V of Sweden as the proudest moment in his life. It was then that the King proclaimed, “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.” Less then [sic – than] one year later, he was stripped of his awards when it was revealed that while a student at Carlisle Indian School, he played summer baseball for expense money. The Amateur Athletic Union ruled: “Ignorance of the definition of professionalism is no excuse.”

Seventy years later, armed with information gathered for the Jim Thorpe biography and additional research findings from the Library of Congress, the Jim Thorpe Foundation uncovered evidence that proved Jim’s disqualification was illegal and rendered invalid, thereby correcting what had been called by many “the greatest injustice in sports history.”

All quotations from: Jim Thorpe, World’s Greatest Athlete by Robert W. Wheeler, University of Oklahoma Press.


1888: Born near Prague, Oklahoma, May 28, 1888.
1911: 1st Team All-America, Football
1912: Proclaimed “The Greatest Athlete in the World” by King Gustav V of Sweden.
1912: King Gustav V presented Jim the Laurel Wreath, Gold Medal and Life-size Bronze Bust of the King for Pentathlon victory.
1912: King Gustav V presented Jim the Laurel Wreath, Gold Medal and a jeweled 30-pound

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(Video) Princess Diana’s Funeral Part 17: Earl Spencer’s Tribute Silver Chalice, lined in gold, in the shape of a Viking ship for Decathlon victory.
1912: 1st team, All-America, Football.
1913: Amateur Athletic Union judged Jim to be a professional, secured the return of his Olympic gold medals and trophies and eliminated his record.
1919: Elected first president of the American Professional Football Association, later named the National Football League.
1920: Elected president of the National Football League.
1922: Granted approval for the formation of an All-Indian Professional Football Team, “The Oorang Indians”
1938: Named to Knute Rockne, Grantland Rice and “Hurry Up” Yost’s “All-Time” All-American Teams.
1943: Named to Clark Shaughnessay’s “Eternal” All-American Team.
1950: Voted Greatest Football Player of the half-century by the Associated Press.
1950: Voted Greatest Male Athlete of the half-century by the Associated Press.
1950: Elected to Helms Hall College and Professional Football Halls of Fame.
1951: Dedication of tablet monument in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
1951: Elected to National Football College Hall of Fame.
1951: World premiere of Jim Thorpe–All-American, a film based on Jim’s life, starring Burt Lancaster.
1953: Dedication of Jim Thorpe Stadium, Shawnee, Paid Advertisement

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1953: Died March 28, 1953, Lomita, California.
1955: N.F.L.’s “Most Valuable Player” award named “The Jim Thorpe Trophy”.
1957: Dedication of Jim Thorpe Memorial Mausoleum in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania formerly Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk. Around the mound encircling the mausoleum, samples of earth from Jim’s birthplace, Carlisle Indian School, New York’s Polo Grounds and Olympic Stadium in Sweden were scattered. The high school was also renamed after him.
1958: Elected to the National Indian Hall of Fame in Anadarko, Oklahoma.
1961: Elected to Pennsylvania Hall of Fame.
1961: Voted “World’s Greatest Athlete” by the editors of El Universal, Caracas, Venezuela.
1963: Enshrined as a charter member in the National Professional Football Hall of Fame, Canton, Ohio. Later, a statue of him was dedicated at the entrance of the building.
1975: Enshrined in the National Track and Field Hall of Fame of the United States of America, Charleston, West Virginia.
1977: Voted “The Greatest American Football Player in History” in a national poll conducted by Sport Magazine.
1982: Founding of the Jim Thorpe Foundation dedicated to the restoration of the Olympic Awards of Jim Thorpe and the education of the public about his accomplishments.
1982: Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee votes unanimously to restore Jim’s Olympic gold medals.
1984: Jim Thorpe commemorative stamp issued by the United States Postal Service.
1986: Jim Thorpe Award first presented to honor the best defensive back in college football.
1992: Jim Thorpe Pro Sports Awards premiered on national television to honor the greatest athletes in the world.
1995: Jim Thorpe Bright Path Youth Program established in Oklahoma City to promote academic and physical programs designed to build confidence, self-esteem and positive direction.
1996: After a four year service-learning project by students of Carbon County Area Vocational Technical School, the improved monument is rededicated.

[Photo captions, counterclockwise top to bottom, read]
• Jim Thorpe 1917

• Jim Thorpe was famous for his punts and drop kicks.

• Jim Thorpe running for Carlisle track team against Lafayette, 1909.

• Thorpe with the New York Giants, 1917.

(Video) Lattimer Massacre – History Revisited S01 E02

• Jim Thorpe Commemorative stamp issued by the United States Postal Service in 1984.

Renovation Project Completed By The Students Of TheCarbon County Area Vocational Technical School,


Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: • Education • Native Americans • Sports. A significant historical year for this entry is 1888.

Location. 40°53.066′N, 75°43.537′W. Marker is in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, in Carbon County. Marker is on North Street (Pennsylvania Route 903) 0.1 miles north of 13th Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Jim Thorpe Memorial, Jim Thorpe PA 18229, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Professional Sportsman (here, next to this marker); The 1912 Olympics (here, next to this marker); The Carlisle Years (here, next to this marker); A Vigorous Youth (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named James Francis Thorpe (a few steps from this marker); Jim Thorpe (Wa-tho-huck) (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named James Francis Thorpe (within shouting distance of this marker); World War II Honor Roll (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jim Thorpe.

Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.

Also see . . . Jim Thorpe Biography. (Submitted on April 23, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)

Credits. This page was last revised on April 23, 2018. It was originally submitted on April 23, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 195 times since then and 64 times this year. Photos: 1.submitted on April 23, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. 2.submitted on April 19, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Of mixed French, Irish, and Sac and Fox Indian heritage, Thorpe was born in a one-room cabin in Oklahoma, but when he was sixteen his father sent him to the Carlisle Institute, a school for Indian youth.

What did Jim Thorpe do for Oklahoma? ›

He was a first-team All-American selection for 1911 and 1912. During the 1912 season he scored twenty-five touchdowns and 198 points and led his team to a record of twelve wins, one loss, and one tie. Many sportswriters have considered that team to be the best of its era.

What was Jim Thorpe’s real name? ›

Jim Thorpe, byname of James Francis Thorpe, (born May 28, 1888, near Prague, Indian Territory [now in Oklahoma], U.S.—died March 28, 1953, Lomita, California), one of the most accomplished all-around athletes in history who in 1950 was selected by American sportswriters and broadcasters as the greatest American athlete …

Was Jim Thorpe white? ›

Thorpe’s parents were both of mixed-race ancestry. His father, Hiram Thorpe, had an Irish father and a Sac and Fox Indian mother.

Who is the greatest athlete of all time? › Greatest Athletes of All Time

  • 8) Babe Ruth. …
  • 7) Deion Sanders. …
  • 6) Pele. …
  • 5) Michael Jordan. …
  • 4) Muhammad Ali. …
  • 3) Jim Thorpe. …
  • 2) Bo Jackson. …
  • 1) Jim Brown. In high school, he earned 13 letters playing five sports: football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and track.

What disease did Jim Thorpe suffer from? ›

He had to be accepted as a charity case when he was hospitalized for lip cancer in 1950. After suffering his third heart attack, the 64-year-old Jim Thorpe died in his trailer home in Lomita, California, on 28 March 1953.

Why was Thorpe stripped of his gold medals? ›

After the 1912 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the decision to strip Jim of his medals, claiming that he had violated the amateurism rules that existed around the games at that time.

What impact did Jim Thorpe have on society? ›

Thorpe became a symbol of injustice towards Native Americans. Thorpe returned to pro baseball, playing with the New York Giants for 15 years, while simultaneously playing and coaching football. In 1920, he helped organize a forerunner of the NFL and served as its first president.

Did Jim Thorpe catch his own punt? ›

It has been written that Jim Thorpe went downfield twice to catch his own punts! He was the ultimate all-around athlete, not just in football: his bowling average was 200, his golf score in the 70s, and he was an outstanding major league baseball player for six seasons.

What did the king of Sweden say to Jim Thorpe? ›

He won the decathlon and pentathlon in Stockholm. When King Gustav V of Sweden congratulated Thorpe, he said, “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.” Thorpe reputedly replied, “Thanks, king.”

How did Jim Thorpe lose his medals? ›

That was the flash point for a turn in Thorpe’s life. Although he would continue to write his legacy as an athlete nonpareil, he was stripped of his gold medals in 1913 after it was discovered he had violated amateur rules by being paid to play minor league baseball in 1909 and 1910.

Where is Billy Mills today? ›

He lives near Sacramento, California. President Barack Obama awarded Mills the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, for his work with the Running Strong for American Indian Youth organization.

What caused Jim Thorpe’s death? ›

Jim Thorpe died on March 28, 1953, of another heart attack. The family — including Patsy, Bill says — agreed to take his body home to the plot near Prague, close to the Indian allotment where he was born.

Why is Jim Thorpe a hero? ›

Football first brought him fame, but it was his achievements in the 1912 Olympics that made him a national hero. Thorpe became the only man to ever win gold in both the decathlon and the pentathlon, a feat which has not been replicated since.

Why did Olympic officials take away Thorpe’s gold medals for the pentathlon and decathlon? ›

The International Olympic Committee stripped his medals and struck his marks from the official record after learning that he had violated the rules of amateurism by playing minor-league baseball in 1909-10.

What is the number 1 hardest sport? ›

Degree of Difficulty: Sport Rankings
Boxing 8.63 1
Ice Hockey 7.25 2
Football 5.38 3

33 more rows Who is the goat in all sports? ›

NBA legend Michael Jordan’s time as the GOAT of all sports is “over” and New England Patriots hero Tom Brady is the “GOAT of all GOATs.” That is according to American sports commentator Michael Irvin, who believes Brady’s seven Super Bowl triumphs now put him clear of the pack for sporting GOATs.

Who is the most respected athlete in the world? ›

Roger Federer – hands down the most respected athlete of all time. 2 Michael Jordan Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player. 3 Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.

Where is Jim Thorpe grave? › Jim Thorpe Memorial, Jim Thorpe Jim Thorpe / Place of burial What NFL award is named after Thorpe? ›

The prestigious Paycom Jim Thorpe Award is given annually to the best defensive back in college football based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character.

What did Grace Thorpe do? ›

Grace served during World War II and was a tribal judge and anti-nuclear activist, shaping a remarkable legacy of her own as a steward for the rights of indigenous peoples and the environment, and for solidifying her father’s stature as the greatest all-around American athlete.

Why does Roc not have a flag? ›

As part of the sanctions, ROC team uniforms cannot contain the Russian flag, but are allowed to be based on Russia’s national colors. If their uniforms say “Russia,” they must also include “neutral athlete” or something equivalent in the same size.

Did Jim Thorpe get his gold medals back? ›

On July 15, 2022, the 110th anniversary of Thorpe’s decathlon gold medal, the IOC announced that it would reinstate Thorpe as the sole winner of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon.

Who has more medals Thorpe or Phelps? ›

It’s like debating which invention was best for mankind, the telephone or the wheel. Both will go down in history and, while statistics might lead you towards one or the other, choosing the best is a matter of opinion. Phelps has six Olympic gold medals, Thorpe five. Thorpe has 11 world titles, Phelps 10.

Who was the first Native American to win a gold medal for USA? ›

Olympic Career

In 1912, Jim Thorpe became the first Native American to win a gold medal for the United States in the Olympics. He actually won two Olympic gold medals in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden (one in the classic pentathlon and the other in the decathlon).

Who was the greatest American Indian athlete? ›

Oklahoma-born Jim Thorpe (1888-1953), a member of the Sac and Fox tribe, was the most celebrated athlete of his day.

How did Jim Brown change the world? ›

Also Brown has been no stranger to the field of public service. As early as his playing days in Cleveland, he founded the Black Economic Union (BEU), which used professional athletes as facilitators in the establishment of Black-run enterprises, urban athletic clubs, and youth motivation programs.

Did Jim Thorpe kick a 50 yard field goal? ›

Jim Thorpe was one of the most famous players to use the drop kick in the 1920s. Thorpe and other star kickers were able to drop kick field goals from 50 yards away.

How far did Jim Thorpe kick a field goal? ›

Thorpe was also Carlisle’s punter and placekicker. He kicked a 48-yard field goal (in the 1911 Harvard game) that stood as the national record for many years, and he was said to be able to punt the ball the length of the field.

Who told Jim Thorpe he was the greatest athlete in the world? ›

American Olympic Gold: King Gustav V of Sweden presents an Olympic gold medal and wreath to 25-year-old Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox American Indian) and proclaims him “the greatest athlete in the world,” Stockholm Summer Olympics, 1912. “(Jim Thorpe) was the greatest athlete who ever lived….

Who won the first decathlon? ›

The American athlete Jim Thorpe was the first Olympic decathlon champion.

What is Jim Thorpe? ›

Jim Thorpe, a.k.a. Wa-Tho-Huk (meaning Bright Path) was a Native American athlete, actor, and humanitarian who dominated in nearly every sport he played, despite all odds. At the 1912 Olympics in Sweden, he brought home two gold medals for the United States — one for the pentathlon and one for the decathlon.

What year was the most number of gold medals stripped? ›

Among particular Olympic Games, the 2008 Summer Olympics has the most stripped medals, at 50.

Is track and field the oldest sport? ›

Track and field or “athletics” – from the Greek word “athlos” meaning contest – is the world’s oldest physical competition, the original sporting event.

Did Billy Mills go to boarding school? ›

An orphan, Mills attended Haskell Institute, a boarding school for Native Americans in Lawrence, Kansas. There, Mills became a top runner, eventually earning a scholarship to the University of Kansas, where he was a three-time All-American in cross-country.

What did Billy Mills do for a living? ›

Billy Mills, byname of William Mervin Mills, (born June 30, 1938, Pine Ridge, South Dakota, U.S.), athlete who was the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in the 10,000-metre race, achieving a dramatic upset victory at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

How old is Jim Thorpe now? ›

LOS ANGELES, March 28–Jim Thorpe, the Indian whose exploits in football, baseball and track and field won him acclaim as one of the greatest athletes of all time, died today in his trailer home in suburban Lomita. His age was 64. Thorpe was eating dinner with his wife when he suffered a heart attack.

How old is Jim Thorpe? › Jim Thorpe / Age at death How tall is Jim Thorpe? › Why is Jim Thorpe important? ›

The first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal for the U.S., Jim Thorpe won the pentathlon and decathlon at the Stockholm 1912 Olympic Games. He later played pro baseball and football.

What Olympic events did Jim Thorpe win? ›

More than a century later, Jim Thorpe’s Olympic legacy has been officially restored. Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the talented athlete will be reinstated as the sole winner of two events, the pentathlon and decathlon, that he competed in during the 1912 Games in Stockholm.

Which country has had the largest impact on the globalization of sport through colonialism? ›

20Guttmann (1994) and numerous other scholars surmised that the British had the greatest influence on the diffusion of modern sports, until the Americans joined in the propagation of sport in the early twentieth century.

Why are Olympians wearing bibs off shoulder? ›

The reason is more function than fashion, according to CBC Olympics snowboarding expert Craig McMorris. “Sometimes those bibs can fly up in your eyes. That’s very, very dangerous. So a lot of the riders will tuck it under their arm,” McMorris said during the snowboard halfpipe competition.

Who has the most biathlon gold medals? ›

Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Bjørndalen also spelled Bjoerndalen, (born January 27, 1974, Drammen, Norway), Norwegian biathlete whose 13 Olympic Games medals are the most for any male Winter Olympian and who is widely considered the greatest biathlete of all time.

What was Jim Thorpe accused of? ›

Thorpe won two olympic gold medals in 1912, he was stripped of them by the IOC in 1913 due to “breaking amateurism rules”, and only now has he finally gotten back what he conquered by being “the greatest athlete in the world”.

Who were Jim Thorpe’s parents? ›

Jim Thorpe

What is Jim Thorpe’s hometown? ›

Early Years and Schools. Jim Thorpe was born circa May 28, 1887, near current-day Prague, Oklahoma. A child of Sac and Fox and Potawatomi Indian bloodlines, as well as French and Irish roots, he was given the name Wa-Tho-Huk, meaning “Bright Path,” but christened Jacobus Franciscus Thorpe.

Why was Jim Thorpe stripped of his medals? ›

After the 1912 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the decision to strip Jim of his medals, claiming that he had violated the amateurism rules that existed around the games at that time.

Who is Isabelle Thorpe? ›

Isabelle Thorpe (born 4 March 2001) is a British synchronised swimmer.

Who were Jim Thorpe’s wives? ›

Jim Thorpe

Why is it called Jim Thorpe? ›

It was created in 1954 with the merger of the boroughs of Mauch Chunk (“Bear Mountain;” inc. 1850) and East Mauch Chunk (inc. 1854) and was named for Jim Thorpe (1888–1953), the famous Native American athlete. Thorpe’s remains were brought from Oklahoma and interred in a nearby mausoleum (the Jim Thorpe Memorial).

Who stripped Jim Thorpe of his Olympic medals? ›

The International Olympic Committee stripped his medals and struck his marks from the official record after learning that he had violated the rules of amateurism by playing minor-league baseball in 1909-10.

When was Jim Thorpe born? › Jim Thorpe / Date of birth


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