Wink: The Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield

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9780071418621: Wink: The Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield

"One of the most extraordinary stories in sports history is also one of its least known. Jimmy Winkfield was a gifted jockey and a remarkably intrepid man, and his life was a singular adventure. His is a story of persistence, hardship, and triumph, and it should be long remembered."—Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend

"In the entire sweep of American sports, from the days of a roistering John L. Sullivan in the 19th Century through the Tiger Woods phenomenon of the 21st, no figure made a bolder and more original odyssey of his life than Jimmy Winkfield, the poor son of former slaves whose brilliance as a jockey bore him from the winner's circle at the Kentucky Derby to the royal courts of Czarist Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and from Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany to the salons of Paris. In Wink, author Ed Hotaling skilfully reports and chronicles Winkfield's battles against racism in the New World--his courage and daring in escaping that most implacable of foes--and his success and rise to glory as a rider and then a trainer in the Old World. The tale of Wink is an illuminating and inspiring read." —William Nack, author of Secretariat: The Making of a Champion, and My Turf: Horses, Boxers, Blood Money and the Sporting Life

"It is phenomenal enough that Jimmy Winkfield became a dominant force in American horse racing half a century before Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But this two-time Kentucky Derby–winner's adventures after leaving to race overseas make his story all the more compelling. Ed Hotaling has a marvelous tale to tell. This is the stuff of great nonfiction."—Douglas Brinkley, author of Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War

"In this fine book, Ed Hotaling adds the texture of a rich individual life to what his previous work has already told us about the great black jockeys of a century ago."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., bestselling author, Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University

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From the Back Cover:

He was a giant of a man who stood barely five feet tall; a fierce competitor with a gentle manner; a gifted jockey whose outstanding accomplishments made him a pariah in his native land. At age twenty-three, two-time Kentucky Derby–winner Jimmy Winkfield was forced from American horseracing by a virulent combination of racism and hard times. He could have become one more victim of Jim Crow injustice, but Jimmy never allowed himself to be anyone’s victim. Instead he launched himself on an amazing adventure through the epochal events of the twentieth century, and in Wink, Ed Hotaling weaves that story with rich historical detail to tell a page-turning tale reminiscent of E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime.

This vivid and compelling biography has already led to Winkfield’s recent induction into the horse racing's Hall of Fame—one of only three black jockeys honored there. Wink tells the story of Jimmy's rise from humble beginnings as a shoeshine boy in Lexington, Kentucky, to the top of turn-of-the-century American racing. Bursting with talent, confidence, and charm, this brilliant horseman was poised to become the greatest athlete in what was then the world’s biggest sport when he was blackballed by stable owners in 1903. Desperate to continue racing, Wink left his beloved Kentucky, bought a steamer ticket for Europe, and made the world his racetrack.

Hotaling follows Wink on a decades-long odyssey through the capitals of Europe. From the splendor and repression of Czarist Russia to the upheaval and brutality of the Bolshevik Revolution, from the militaristic pomp of the Kaiser’s Germany to the sophisticated elegance of Josephine Baker’s Paris, Wink excelled in his sport, winning purses that far surpassed his Kentucky Derby prizes.

But history seemed always to be gaining on Jimmy. He was the “black maestro” in Moscow, living large, when he and others were forced by the Bolshevik Army into an eleven-hundred-mile overland trek to Poland, herding two hundred thoroughbred horses and surviving on horse flesh. Two decades later, on top once more in France, he had to flee yet again—this time to protect his family from Nazi occupiers. In his sixties, Wink wielded a jackhammer with his 105-pound frame on the streets of Queens for Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. In his seventies, he reestablished himself as a top French trainer and stable owner. He died in Paris at age ninety-four, still homesick for the rolling bluegrass meadows of his boyhood.

No athlete has ever had a more spectacular career or demonstrated more courageously how to ride past any hardship. Jimmy Winkfield achieved a human greatness that transcends the limits of sport. Wink tells this wonderful story—this American story—in all its rich and vibrant power.

Ed Hotaling, a leading social historian, is the nation’s preeminent authority on the history of black jockeys. An Emmy-winning reporter for the NBC television station in Washington, D.C., he is the author of The Great Black Jockeys and They're Off! Horse Racing at Saratoga.

"This may be the most fascinating untold sports story in American history."—Charles Osgood, anchor, CBS News Sunday Morning

"One of the most extraordinary stories in sports history is also one of its least known. Jimmy Winkfield was a gifted jockey and a remarkably intrepid man, and his life was a singular adventure. His is a story of persistence, hardship, and triumph, and it should be long remembered."—Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend

"It is phenomenal enough that Jimmy Winkfield became a dominant force in American horse racing half a century before Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But this two-time Kentucky Derby–winner's adventures after leaving to race overseas make his story all the more compelling. Ed Hotaling has a marvelous tale to tell. This is the stuff of great nonfiction."—Douglas Brinkley, author of Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War

"In this fine book, Ed Hotaling adds the texture of a rich individual life to what his previous work has already told us about the great black jockeys of a century ago."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., bestselling author, Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University

About the Author:

Ed Hotaling is the author of The Great Black Jockeys, and They're Off! Horse Racing at Saratoga.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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