Mack Robinson (athlete)

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Mack Robinson
Mack Robinson Olympian.jpg
Personal information
Full nameMatthew MacKenzie Robinson
BornJuly 18, 1914
Cairo, Georgia, U.S.
DiedMarch 12, 2000(2000-03-12) (aged 85)
Pasadena, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Oregon
Height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight170 lb (77 kg)
SportTrack and field
Event(s)Sprint, Long jump
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing the  United States
Silver medal – second place 1936 Berlin 200 m

Matthew MacKenzie "Mack" Robinson (July 18, 1914 – March 12, 2000) was an American track and field athlete. He is best known for winning a silver medal in the 1936 Summer Olympics, where he broke the Olympic record in the 200 meter but still finished behind Jesse Owens (like Jesse Owens, Robinson was an African-American). He was the older brother of Baseball Hall of Fame member Jackie Robinson.[1]

Early life[edit]

Mack was born in Cairo, Georgia, in 1914. He and his siblings were left fatherless at an early age, leaving their mother, Mallie Robinson, as the sole support of the children. She performed in a variety of manual labor tasks, and moved with her children to Pasadena, California, while the children were still young. Mack remained in town for school, and set national junior college records in the 100 meter, 200 meter, and long jump at Pasadena Junior College.[2]

1936 Olympics[edit]

He placed second in the 200 meters at the United States Olympic Trials in 1936, earning himself a place on the Olympic team.[3]:80 He went on to win the silver medal at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, finishing 0.4 seconds behind Jesse Owens. In 2016, the 1936 Olympic journey of the eighteen Black American athletes, including Robinson, was documented in the film Olympic Pride, American Prejudice.[4]

Later career and life[edit]

Mack Robinson attended the University of Oregon, graduating in 1941. With Oregon he won numerous titles in NCAA, AAU and Pacific Coast Conference track meets. He has been honored as being one of the most distinguished graduates of the University of Oregon and is a member of the University of Oregon Hall of Fame and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

For a time in the early 1970s, Mack was a park director of Lemon Grove Park, a park in the East Hollywood part of the City of Los Angeles.

Later in life, he was known for leading the fight against street crime in his home town of Pasadena. The Pasadena Robinson Memorial, dedicated to both Matthew and Jackie, was dedicated in 1997. The memorial statue of Jackie Robinson by sculptor Richard H. Ellis at UCLA Bruins baseball team's home Jackie Robinson Stadium,[5] was installed by the efforts of Jackie's brother, Mack.[6]

Several locations are named in honor of Matthew Robinson. In addition to the Pasadena Robinson Memorial, the stadium of Pasadena City College was dedicated to him in 2000. That same year, the United States Postal Service approved naming the new post office in Pasadena the Matthew 'Mack' Robinson Post Office Building.[7]

Robinson died of complications from diabetes, kidney failure, and pneumonia, on March 12, 2000, at a hospital in Pasadena, California; he was 85.[8] He is interred at Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum, Altadena, California.


  1. ^ "Mack Robinson Biography and Olympic Results". Archived from the original on 2009-11-05.
  2. ^ Robert Weintraub, Two Lives After Losing to Jesse Owens, New York Times, July 20, 2012
  3. ^ Hymans, Richard (2008). "The History of the United States Olympic Trials – Track & Field" (PDF). USA Track & Field. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  4. ^ Henderson, Odie (2016-08-05). "Olympic Pride, American Prejudice movie review (2016)". Retrieved 2021-04-11.
  5. ^ "Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium". UCLA Athletics. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  6. ^ "UCLA history project: Robinson statue". Retrieved May 6, 2009.
  7. ^ "Matthew "Mack" Robinson Post Office - Pasadena, CA". Retrieved 2020-08-07.
  8. ^ Litsky, Frank (2000-03-14). "Mack Robinson, 85, Second to Owens in Berlin". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-08-07.


External links[edit]