History isn’t all boring white guys in powdered wigs, you know. OK, it’s mostly that, but it’s also intimidatingly gifted athletes. Observe.
Jim Thorpe Trains for the Decathlon
Terrifying physical specimen Jim Thorpe turned heads at the 1912 Olympics — mainly the heads of the guys that he was lapping on the track, but still. This guy was nuts.
Babe Didrikson and the LPGA
Meet Babe Didrikson, lady golfer extraordinaire, who told the patriarchy to put her 250-yard drive in their pipe and smoke it. And smoke it they did.
Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling
Joe Louis was a boxer with a rockin’ bod. But enough backstory. His biggest test came when he faced off with Nazi Germany’s Max Schmeling. To quote the always-eloquent President Roosevelt, “Are you gonna win, or whatever?”
Jim Abbott at the Pan American Games
How much of a badass was this guy? For starters, he was born with one hand and still went on to be a baseball pitcher. Not only that, he was also congratulated by Fidel Castro for dominating so hard. How many times has Castro congratulated you? Exactly.
Muhammad Ali Refuses to Go to War
Muhammad Ali wasn’t just a transcendent boxer. He was also a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, claiming rightly that the Viet Cong were not the ones who forced him to bear the racial subjugation of 1960s America. It may have been an unpopular decision with some people, but this is why nobody remembers Ali as That Guy Who Backed Down.