Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer (Paperback)

Andrew Ritchie

ISBN 10: 0801853036 / ISBN 13: 9780801853036
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Paperback. World champion at 19. One of the first black athletes to become world champion in any sport. 1-mile record holder. American sprint champion in 1898, 1899, 1900. triumphant tours of.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 336 pages. 0.458. Bookseller Inventory #

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World champion at 19... One of the first black athletes to become world champion in any sport... 1-mile record holder... American sprint champion in 1898, 1899, 1900... triumphant tours of Europe and Australia... Victories against all European champions...

Until now a forgotten, shadowy figure, Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor is here revealed as one of the early sports world's most stylish, entertaining, and gentlemanly personalities. Born in 1878 in Indianapolis, the son of poor rural parents, Taylor worked in a bike shop until prominent bicycle racer "Birdie" Munger coached him for his first professional racing successes in 1896. Despite continuous bureaucratic―and, at times, physical―opposition, he won his first national championship two years later and became world champion in 1899 in Montreal. This beautifully illustrated, vividly narrated, and scrupulously researched biography recreates the life of a great international athlete at the turn of the century. Based on ten years of research―including extensive interviews with Major Taylor's 91-year old daughter―this is the dramatic story of a young black man who, against prodigious odds, rose to fame and stardom in the tempestuous world of international professional bicycle racing a century ago.

Review: Long before Jackie Robinson crossed baseball's color line, before Jack Johnson spawned a line of Great White Hopes desperate to take the heavyweight boxing crown back from a black man, Major Taylor was setting records and fighting bigotry in one of the most popular athletic arenas of the turn of the century. The "Extraordinary" in the title of this steady biography is not just spinning wheels.

Both a world and national champion, Taylor bicycled to glory on three continents. His name on the marquee meant added revenue and attendance. In Europe, he was a superstar, and treated like one. Yet he was mocked by fellow riders in America, shunned by his sport's establishment, and died forgotten and penniless in Chicago in 1932. Part of why Taylor should be remembered is the way he reacted to the hatred he had to ride against: "I always played the game fairly and tried my hardest," he wrote in his own autobiography, which Ritchie thoroughly mines, "although I was not always given a square deal or anything like it ... I only ask from them the same kind of treatment which I give and am willing to continue to give."

Ritchie does yeoman's service in reviving Taylor's story and giving it context with a carefully studied examination of what life was like for black Americans 100 years ago. More importantly, he reaches into the muck of the past and returns with a clear picture of an endangered species: the thoroughly decent human being. --Jeff Silverman

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Title: Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a ...
Binding: Paperback
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Book Description Johns Hopkins University Press, U.S.A., 1996. Glossy Soft Cover. Condition: Fine +. First Thus. 303pp including glossary of bicycle racing terminology, bibliography, and index World champion at 19 and one of the first black athletes to beome world champion in any sport. Seller Inventory # 86359

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