Ralph Boston

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Ralph Boston
Medal record
Men's athletics
Competitor for the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold 1960 Rome Long jump
Silver 1964 Tokyo Long jump
Bronze 1968 Mexico City Long jump
Pan American Games
Gold 1963 Sao Paulo Long jump
Gold 1967 Winnipeg Long jump

Ralph Harold Boston (born May 9, 1939) is an American athlete. He was an all around athletic star, but he is best remembered for his successes in the long jump during the 1960s. He was the first person to jump 27 feet (8.2 m).

Boston was born in Laurel, Mississippi. As a student at Tennessee State University, he won the 1960 National Collegiate Athletic Association title in the long jump. In August of the same year, he broke the world record in the event, held by Jesse Owens for 25 years. Already the world record holder, he improved the mark past 27 feet, jumping 27' 1/2" at the Modesto Relays on May 27, 1961.[1]

He qualified for the Summer Olympics in Rome, where he took the gold medal in the long jump, setting the Olympic record at 8.12 m (26 ft 712 in), while narrowly defeating American teammate Bo Roberson by a mere centimeter.

Between the Olympic Games, Boston won the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national championship in the long jump in 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1964. He also had the longest triple jump for an American in 1963.

He returned to the Tokyo Olympics as the world record holder after losing the record to Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, then regaining the record a couple of months before the games. In the Olympic final, Boston exchanged the lead with Ter-Ovanesyan. Going into the fifth round, Boston was leading but fouled while both Lynn Davies and Ter-Ovanesyan jumped past him. On his final jump, he was able to jump past Ter-Ovanesyan, but couldn't catch Davies, winning the silver medal.

Although Boston lost the world record again to Ter-Ovanesyan, the national title and the #1 ranking in 1968, he continued to compete. When rival Bob Beamon was suspended from the University of Texas at El Paso, for refusing to compete against Brigham Young University, alleging it had racist policies Boston began to coach him unofficially.[2] In the Mexico City Olympics, Boston watched his pupil destroy the world record by jumping 8.90 (29' 2 1/2"). Hearing the announcement in metric distances, Beamon did not know the significance of his feat. It wasn't until Boston explained he had broken the world record by almost two feet that Beamon collapsed to his knees. Perhaps the second most famous photo (besides the jump itself) sent around the world from that event, is of Boston and Davies supporting a sobbing Beamon.[3]

At 29 the veteran won a bronze medal, finishing third behind Beamon and Klaus Beer, completing his set of medals. Shortly after these Games, Boston retired.

Boston moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, after retiring, and worked for the University of Tennessee as Coordinator of Minority Affairs and Assistant Dean of Students from 1968 to 1975.[4] He was the field event reporter for the CBS Sports Spectacular coverage of domestic track and field events.[5] He was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974, and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985.[6]

A Los Angeles Times article on Boston (August 2, 2010), coinciding roughly with the 50th anniversary of his initial world record, described him as a divorced great-grandfather who is writing an autobiography. He divides his time between Atlanta, Georgia and Knoxville.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19910830&slug=1302746
  2. ^ Bob Beamon Biography at thehistorymakers.com
  3. ^ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/10/28/914652/-Top-Comments-1968-Olympics-edition#
  4. ^ Betty Bean, "The Jackie Walker Story," Metro Pulse, 22 November 2007. Retrieved: 20 June 2014.
  5. ^ http://www.trackandfieldnews.com/discussion/viewtopic.php?t=848
  6. ^ Carroll Van West, "Ralph Boston," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved: 20 June 2014.


Awards and achievements
Preceded by
United States Jesse Owens
Men's Long Jump World Record Holder
August 12, 1960 – June 10, 1962
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Igor Ter-Ovanesyan
Preceded by
Soviet Union Igor Ter-Ovanesyan
Men's Long Jump World Record Holder
August 15, 1964 – October 19, 1967
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Igor Ter-Ovanesyan
Awards
Preceded by
United States Rafer Johnson
Track & Field Athlete of the Year
1961
Succeeded by
New Zealand Peter Snell
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Unknown
Men's Long Jump Best Year Performance
1960 — 1961
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Igor Ter-Ovanesyan
Preceded by
Soviet Union Igor Ter-Ovanesyan
Men's Long Jump Best Year Performance
1963 — 1965
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Igor Ter-Ovanesyan