SALT LAKE CITY, July 15, 2022 – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) reinstates Jim Thorpe as the sole champion of the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympic Games.
For 110 years, advocates for the Sac and Fox and Potawatomi athlete, including two American Presidents, have urged the IOC to reinstate Jim Thorpe as the sole champion in his events. Bright Path Strong (BPS) www.brightpathstrong.org is honored to have played a part in removing this injustice that tarnished Thorpe’s enduring legacy.
IOC President, Thomas Bach, said: “Thanks to the great engagement of Bright Path Strong a solution could be found. This is a most exceptional and unique situation. It is addressed by an extraordinary gesture of fair play from the concerned National Olympic Committees.”
Anita Thorpe, granddaughter of Jim Thorpe, Vice Chairman/Sac and Fox Gaming Commission, and BPS Honorary Board Member, proclaimed: “A moment 110 years in the making to finally hear the words officially spoken again, ‘Jim Thorpe is the sole winner of the 1912 decathlon and pentathlon.’ A glorious time of celebrations to all of his friends, family, and supporters. Hooray!!!”
Bright Path Strong commends the IOC for setting the record straight and fully reinstating Jim Thorpe. “We are so grateful this nearly 110-year-old injustice has finally been corrected, and there is no confusion about the most remarkable athlete in history,” said Nedra Darling, BPS co-founder and citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.
In 1913, the IOC wrongfully stripped Jim of his wins after it was revealed that he played minor league baseball prior to the 1912 Summer Games, declaring he had infringed the rules regarding amateurism in place at the time. In 1982, the IOC returned replica gold medals to the Thorpe family and designated him a co-champion in the official records, though he dominated the competition, and his opponents only reluctantly accepted the gold medals reallocated to them.
Dennis Hendricks, council member of Tuolumne Band of Me Wuk Indians and BPS Board Member said, “Jim Thorpe faced seemingly insurmountable odds on and off the field. He represented this country before it even recognized Native Americans as citizens but he never gave up. He was an inspiration then and he is an inspiration now. Today is yet another victory for this great hero.”
A Team Effort
On July 15, 2020, Bright Path Strong and its Tribal partners launched a major campaign to right the greatest injustice in Olympic history and have Jim Thorpe reinstated as the sole champion in his events. This included an online petition and support from National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund, National Native Boarding School Coalition, Indian Gaming Association, Native American Finance Officers Association, Amateur Athletic Union, Pro Football Hall of Fame, The Doug Williams Center, and the unprecedented efforts of IOC Representative to the U.S., Ms. Anita DeFrantz, who became an ally after learning how Thorpe was wrongfully stripped of his gold medals while a student at Carlisle Indian Industrial School where he “survived an education designed to rob him of his culture.”
“This was made possible by supporters from Indian Country and from around the world,” said Chris Taylor, citizen of the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana and BPS co-founder. “This could not have been accomplished without our Tribal partners: Tuolumne Band of Me Wuk Indians, Chicken Ranch Rancheria Me-Wuk Indians of California, Tonto Apache Tribe, The Mohegan Tribe, Sealaska, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, and Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians.”
Chairman Lloyd Mathiesen of Chicken Ranch Rancheria said, “We are excited this injustice has finally been corrected and are proud to be a part of changing history and helping tell Jim’s story. Jim’s resilience and perseverance stands as a beacon to our youth and shows them anything is possible.”
Nedra Darling concludes, “I pray that Jim, his family, and our ancestors are celebrating that the truth has been upheld today, on this 110th anniversary of Jim being awarded his Olympic gold medals. This is a day for great celebration.”
We’re not finished! Bright Path Strong’s mission is to continue Jim Thorpe’s legacy of community service, and that is just what we are going to do. Please continue to support Bright Path Strong by donating today.