The Brisbane Lions (formerly Fitzroy) boast a rich Indigenous history born largely from their foundation club Fitzroy, who were believed to be the Victorian Football League pioneers in terms of racial tolerance.
In fact, Fitzroy’s Joe Johnson (1883-1934) became the VFL’s first ever Aboriginal player when he lined up for the Roys against Carlton in Round 1 of 1904.
Johnson went on to play 55 games in three seasons with the Club, including the 1904 and 1905 premiership sides.
Another notable Indigenous player from Fitzroy’s history was Pastor Doug Nicholls, who represented the Club in 53 games from 1932-37.
Nicholls twice represented Victoria and received a number of other VFL honours, before devoting his time as a Minister of Christ following his retirement.
He later became the first Aboriginal to receive an MBE in 1957, was the first to receive a knighthood in 1972, and was appointed Governor of South Australia in 1976.
In more recent years, the Club has celebrated some fine Indigenous players – including Chris Johnson (Fitzroy/Lions), Darryl White (Bears/Lions), and Michael McLean (Bears/Lions) – who all form part of the Indigenous Team of the Century.
After starting his VFL career with Footscray, McLean headed to Brisbane where he played a total of 88 games with the Bears/Lions.
He is also a former Captain and Coach of the Indigenous All-Stars team, and spent a further two seasons as an Assistant Coach at the Lions in 1999 and 2000.ic
White and Johnson, meanwhile, sit among the Club’s all-time games leaders with 268 and 264 senior matches respectively.
The pair shares an enviable record as having won the most premierships (three) of any Indigenous player in the history of the game.
African-American Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. No other Olympian had achieved so much in previous Olympics. His success was a major blow to Adolph Hitler, who had hoped to showcase Aryan superiority at the games.
The grandson of a slave and the son of a sharecropper, Owens’ victories were significant on many levels. Perhaps most importantly, it affirmed that an individual’s performance distinguishes one more so than race, religion or national origin.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Owens won his first final in the 100 meters by edging out teammate Ralph Metcalfe.
The following day, Owens was nearly out of the long jump competition after qualifying began. He fouled on his first two jumps. One of the jumps was a practice run, but officials counted it as an attempt.
With just one jump remaining, Luz Long, a German long jumper who was Owens’ toughest competition, introduced himself. Long had the blond hair, blue-eyed look that Hitler so favoured, yet Long didn’t buy into the “master race” propaganda that Hitler espoused.
He offered a suggestion to Owens. To play it safe, make your mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there. Owens used the advice and qualified on his last jump.
Later that afternoon, Long’s fifth jump matched Owens’ 25-10 in the finals. But Owens won the gold medal with a final jump of 26-5½ on his last jump. The first to congratulate Owens was Long.
“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler,” Owens said. “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment.
Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace. The sad part of the story is I never saw Long again. He was killed in World War II.”
Owens added to his gold medal count with wins in the 200 meters and the 4×100 meter relay. The German crowd at the stadium, some 110,000 strong at times, cheered his accomplishments and sought his autograph in the streets during the games.
Jesse Owens’ inspirational sports story captured newspaper headlines across the world.
Dressed in flowing red skirts and draped in colorful bead necklaces but otherwise bare bodied, the warriors from the legendary Kenyan tribe of Maasai are one of the world’s most unusual and unlikely cricketing teams.
Dropping their spears in favor of cricket bats and leather balls, this group of youth is trying to promote healthy living within their community, and spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS and women’s issues by using sports as the medium.
They call themselves the Maasai Cricket Warriors.
Cricket came to this remote corner of Kenya six years ago entirely because of the efforts and passion of one South African woman, Aliya Bauer, who coaches the Maasai team.
Bauer was sent to Kenya’s Laikipia region to work on a research project about baboons.
Stationed there in the bush, she missed cricket so much that she decided to introduce the game to the local community.