Great Depression1

Cut wages, growing unemployment, poverty, and suffering were unforgettable
experiences during the Great Depression of the thirties. Many people learned
to face these hard times with the help of famous sports figures. They gave
hope and to many people pride in what they stood for to them.
One of these great sports figures who helped Americans was boxer Joe
Louis. In 1936 he fought the world champion Max Schmeling and had his first
lose. Max Schmeling was a German boxer and the Nazis equated his victory over
Joe Louis as a Nazi superiority over American democracy. Once again the two
boxers, Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, fought in 1938 and this time Joe Louis
won in the first round. This was an enormous lift for Americans. It was a
victory for democracy. Joe Louis was also an inspiration to the African
American people. He was a famous African American boxer and had beaten a
German boxer who was as Hitler believed the perfect race. This gave the
African Americans self-respect and pride in who they were. “ African
Americans pointed with pride to athletes like Joe Louis, who was the world
heavyweight boxing champion.” (Cayton, Perry, Winkler, 764 ) Louis also went
on to become a hero for the war effort and gave inspirational speeches.
Jesse Owens great accomplishments on the track field made him one of the
most famous in history. While on the Ohio State University track team in 1935
he set a world record in the broad jump (26 feet 8 1/4 ). In 1936 he set a
new world record in the 100m. dash,(10.2 sec.). In 1936 as a member of the
U.S. track team at the Olympic games in Berlin, Jesse Owens won four gold
medals and set more new world records. This is an important moral buster to
the American people, white and black, because once again it showed Nazis were
not a superior race. An African American man had won four gold medals. This
was humiliating and angered Adolf Hitler . “ His paramont victory at the 1936
Olympic Games in Berlin was made even more memorable when Adolf Hitler
refused to award Owens his four gold medals because he was black.” (
Encyclopedia 97 ) This was as much a victory for the American people as for
Owens. It was especially important to the African Americans because it was an
acknowledgement of his Olympic victories because he was black. Owens also
helped the community by playing an active role in the youth athletic
An important athlete to the women of the thirties was Babe Didrikson
Zaharias,” the greatest woman athlete in the first half of the twentieth
century...” (encyclopedia 97) She excelled in every sport she played,
swimming, basketball, track and field, and golf. In the 1932 Olympic games
she set records in the javelin throw and the 80m. hurdle. Between 1936 and
1954 she won every woman\'s golf tournament she entered. Babe Didrikson was
a ray of light for women who until this time really hadn’t been able to
really take part in sports. It made women proud and gave them someone to look
up to.
In conclusion the thirties were hard times but thanks to many great sport
figures like Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias life had
some moments of great pride and joy. People were allowed to feel good about
themselves whether they were black, white, or woman. They gave us
recognition as a united group, Americans who were notice around the world.