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JACK JOHNSON Boxing (Credit: AP)

JACK JOHNSON
Boxing
"The Galveston Giant" knocked out Tommy Burns in 1908 to become the first black heavyweight champ. He lost the title in 1915 in the 26th round of a 45-round fight. Johnson finished his career 79-8 with 46 wins by knockout.

Black pioneers in sports history

Look back at some of the notable black pioneers in sports history, including baseball, the Olympics, basketball, college basketball, boxing, golf, tennis, football, college football, hockey and wrestling.

Compiled by Bobby Bonett and Ashley Melfi

JACKIE ROBINSON Baseball Robinson broke the MLB color
(Credit: AP)

JACKIE ROBINSON
Baseball
Robinson broke the MLB color barrier in 1947 as a second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was also the first black MVP, winning the award in 1949, and the first African-American Hall of Famer, inducted in 1962. His number is now retired throughout Major League Baseball.

LARRY DOBY Baseball Shortly after Jackie Robinson, Doby
(Credit: AP)

LARRY DOBY
Baseball
Shortly after Jackie Robinson, Doby was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1947 as the first black player in the American League. He was a seven-time All-Star.

DON NEWCOMBE Baseball Newcombe was the first black
(Credit: AP)

DON NEWCOMBE
Baseball
Newcombe was the first black baseball player to win the Cy Young, winning the award its first year in 1956. He was named MVP the same season.

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WILLIE MAYS Baseball Mays was the first black
(Credit: AP)

WILLIE MAYS
Baseball
Mays was the first black player to win the Gold Glove Award, taking his first of 12 consecutive in 1957.

BUCK O'NEIL Baseball A former star in the
(Credit: AP)

BUCK O'NEIL
Baseball
A former star in the Negro American League, O'Neil became MLB’s first black coach in 1962 for the Cubs.

ELSTON HOWARD Baseball Howard, a catcher for the
(Credit: AP)

ELSTON HOWARD
Baseball
Howard, a catcher for the Yankees, batted .287 with 28 home runs and 85 RBIs in 1963 and won the American League MVP, that league’s first for a black baseball player.

SATCHEL PAIGE Baseball Paige was the first black
(Credit: AP)

SATCHEL PAIGE
Baseball
Paige was the first black pitcher to be enshrined in the baseball Hall of Fame in 1971. At his acceptance, he said that in the Negro Leagues, "there were many Satchels and many Joshes," referring to Josh Gibson.

FRANK ROBINSON Baseball On April 8, 1974, Frank
(Credit: AP)

FRANK ROBINSON
Baseball
On April 8, 1974, Frank Robinson managed his first game with the Indians, becoming the first black major league manager.

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BOB WATSON Baseball Watson, the Yankees general manager
(Credit: Newsday/Paul Bereswill)

BOB WATSON
Baseball
Watson, the Yankees general manager in 1996, became the first black GM to win a World Series.

GEORGE POAGE Olympics In the 1904 Olympic Games
(Credit: Wisconsin Athletic Communications)

GEORGE POAGE
Olympics
In the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, Poage became the first black athlete to participate in the Olympics, and the first to medal. He won bronze in the 440 meter hurdles.

John Baxter Taylor setting a new Intercollegiate Record
(Credit: University of Pennsylvania Archive)

John Baxter Taylor setting a new Intercollegiate Record during a 1907 race in Massachusetts.

DEHART HUBBARD Olympics In the 1924 Olympic Games
(Credit: Michigan Athletic Communications)

DEHART HUBBARD
Olympics
In the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, Hubbard became the first black American athlete to win an individual gold medal. He took first in the long jump.

VONETTA FLOWERS, UAB Vonetta Flowers, left, is the
(Credit: AP)

VONETTA FLOWERS, UAB
Vonetta Flowers, left, is the first African-American to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. She won it in bobsledding at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

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SHANI DAVIS Olympics In 2006, Davis won gold
(Credit: Getty Images)

SHANI DAVIS
Olympics
In 2006, Davis won gold at the Olympics in the 1,000 meter speed skating event. He was the first black athlete for Team USA to win an individual gold in the Winter Olympics. Davis defended his title in 2010.

EARL LLOYD, CHUCK COOPER AND NAT CLIFTON Basketball
(Credit: Getty Images)

EARL LLOYD, CHUCK COOPER AND NAT CLIFTON
Basketball
Together, Cooper, Clifton (pictured) and Lloyd broke the NBA's color line. Cooper was the first black player drafted, taken by Boston; Clifton was the first to sign an NBA contract, with the Knicks; and Lloyd was the first to appear in a game, with the Capitols.

WAYNE EMBRY Basketball Embry became the first black
(Credit: AP)

WAYNE EMBRY
Basketball
Embry became the first black NBA general manager in 1972 with the Milwaukee Bucks.

BILL RUSSELL Basketball Russell was the first black
(Credit: AP)

BILL RUSSELL
Basketball
Russell was the first black coach in the NBA in 1966, and the first black coach to win an NBA title in 1968. Later, in 1975, he was the first black basketball player inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

ROBERT L. JOHNSON Basketball In 2003, the creator
(Credit: AP)

ROBERT L. JOHNSON
Basketball
In 2003, the creator of Black Entertainment Television paid $300 million for majority ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats, making him the first black majority owner of a professional sports team.

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JOE DUMARS Baskeball Dumars became the first black
(Credit: AP)

JOE DUMARS
Baskeball
Dumars became the first black GM in the NBA to win a championship with the Pistons in 2004. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

WILL ROBINSON College basketball In 1970, Robinson became
(Credit: AP)

WILL ROBINSON
College basketball
In 1970, Robinson became the first black coach at a Division I school when he was hired by the Illinois State University men's basketball team.

TEXAS WESTERN College basketball In 1966, Don Haskins’
(Credit: AP)

TEXAS WESTERN
College basketball
In 1966, Don Haskins’ Texas Western men’s basketball team was the first all-black starting lineup in the National Championship game. The Miners beat Kentucky, 72-65.

JACK JOHNSON Boxing
(Credit: AP)

JACK JOHNSON
Boxing
"The Galveston Giant" knocked out Tommy Burns in 1908 to become the first black heavyweight champ. He lost the title in 1915 in the 26th round of a 45-round fight. Johnson finished his career 79-8 with 46 wins by knockout.

CHARLIE SIFFORD Golf Sifford became the first black
(Credit: AP)

CHARLIE SIFFORD
Golf
Sifford became the first black player to earn a PGA Tour card in 1961. He won the 1967 Greater Hartford Open Invitational, the first Tour event won by a black golfer.

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LEE ELDER Golf In 1975, Elder became the
(Credit: AP)

LEE ELDER
Golf
In 1975, Elder became the first black golfer to play in the Masters. He missed the cut, but went on to win four times on the PGA Tour and eight times on the Champions Tour.

TIGER WOODS Golf Woods was the first black
(Credit: AP)

TIGER WOODS
Golf
Woods was the first black golfer to take home the U.S. Amateur, in 1994, then became the first black major golf champion, winning the 1997 Masters.

ALTHEA GIBSON Tennis In 1956, Gibson became the
(Credit: Getty Images)

ALTHEA GIBSON
Tennis
In 1956, Gibson became the first black tennis player to win a grand slam, taking the doubles title at Wimbledon.

ARTHUR ASHE Tennis Ashe became the first black
(Credit: AP)

ARTHUR ASHE
Tennis
Ashe became the first black man to win a grand slam event, winning the U.S. Open in 1968. In 1975, he became the first black man to win Wimbledon.

FRITZ POLLARD Football Pollard (pictured) and Bobby Marshall
(Credit: AP)

FRITZ POLLARD
Football
Pollard (pictured) and Bobby Marshall were the first two black players to play in the NFL in 1920, Pollard with the Akron Pros and Marshall with the Rock Island Independents. A year later, Pollard became co-head coach of the Pros, the first black coach in league history.

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WILLIE THROWER Football On Oct. 18, 1953, Thrower
(Credit: AP)

WILLIE THROWER
Football
On Oct. 18, 1953, Thrower became the first black quarterback to appear in an NFL game. Bears coach George Halas replaced George Blanda with him midway through a game. Thrower appeared in one more game in his NFL career.

MARLIN BRISCOE Football Briscoe was the first black
(Credit: AP)

MARLIN BRISCOE
Football
Briscoe was the first black quarterback to start a game in the modern era for the Denver Broncos in 1968. He was converted to receiver with the Buffalo Bills the next season and became a Pro Bowler.

FRANCO HARRIS Football Harris rushed for 158 yards
(Credit: AP)

FRANCO HARRIS
Football
Harris rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown at Super Boxl IX in 1975, and was the first black player to be named the game’s MVP.

DOUG WILLIAMS Football With the Redskins in 1988,
(Credit: NFL)

DOUG WILLIAMS
Football
With the Redskins in 1988, Williams became the first black quarterback to both start in and win a Super Bowl.

ART SHELL Football Shell became the first black
(Credit: AP)

ART SHELL
Football
Shell became the first black NFL head coach in the modern era when he was hired by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1989.

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OZZIE NEWSOME Football Newsome became the first black
(Credit: AP)

OZZIE NEWSOME
Football
Newsome became the first black general manager in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens in 2002.

TONY DUNGY, LOVIE SMITH Football Dungy and Smith
(Credit: AP)

TONY DUNGY, LOVIE SMITH
Football
Dungy and Smith were the first black coaches to reach the Super Bowl in 2007. The Colts beat the Bears, making Dungy the first black coach to win the Super Bowl.

JERRY REESE Football Reese, the general manager of
(Credit: Newsday/David Pokress)

JERRY REESE
Football
Reese, the general manager of the New York Giants, became the first black GM to win a Super Bowl when the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in 2008.

DUKE SLATER College football In 1951, its inaugural
(Credit: Iowa Athletic Communications)

DUKE SLATER
College football
In 1951, its inaugural year, Slater was the first black player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He played tackle for Iowa from 1918-1921.

ERNIE DAVIS College football Davis, a Syracuse running
(Credit: AP)

ERNIE DAVIS
College football
Davis, a Syracuse running back, was the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy in 1961. He was drafted into the NFL, but was diagnosed with leukemia and died at 23.

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WILLIE JEFFRIES College football Jeffries was the first
(Credit: AP)

WILLIE JEFFRIES
College football
Jeffries was the first black coach in Division I-A college football when he took over at Wichita State University in 1979. In 2002, he was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award in Indianapolis at the Black Coaches Association (BCA) Convention Awards Banquet.

WILLIE O'REE Hockey In 1958, Willie O'Ree made
(Credit: AP)

WILLIE O'REE
Hockey
In 1958, Willie O'Ree made his debut with the Bruins as the first black player in the National Hockey League.

RON SIMMONS Wrestling A former NFL player, Simmons
(Credit: AP)

RON SIMMONS
Wrestling
A former NFL player, Simmons started wrestling in 1989, and in 1992, became the first black WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He later wrestled in ECW, WWF and WWE promotions.

DWAYNE
(Credit: AP)

DWAYNE "THE ROCK" JOHNSON
Wrestling
"The Rock" was the first black WWE Champion. He’s a nine-time champion and is also a movie star.

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