Seen around the world, John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s Black Power salute on the 1968 Olympic|
podium sparked controversy and career fallout. Yet their show of defiance remains one of the most iconic
images of Olympic history and the Black Power movement. Here is the remarkable story of one of the men
behind the salute, lifelong activist John Carlos.
John Carlos is an African American former track and field athlete, professional football player, and a founding member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. He won the bronze medal in the 200 meters race at the 1968 Olympics, where his Black Power salute on the podium with Tommie Smith caused much political controversy. The John Carlos Story is his first book.
Dave Zirin is the author of four books, including Bad Sports, A People’s History of Sports in the United States, and What’s My Name, Fool? He writes the popular weekly online sports column “The Edge of Sports” and is a regular contributor to SportsIllustrated.com, SLAM, Los Angeles Times, and The Nation, where he is the publication’s first sports editor.
June 29, 2011
A proud and boisterous Negro League team owner, Alex Pompez rose to prominence during Latino baseball’s earliest glory days. As a passionate and steadfast advocate for Latino players, he helped bring baseball into the modern age. But like many in the era of segregated baseball, Pompez also found that the game alone could never make all ends meet, and he delved headlong into the seedier side of the sport — gambling — to help finance his beloved team, the New York Cubans. He built one of the most infamous numbers rackets in Harlem, rubbing shoulders with titans of the underworld such as Dutch Schultz and eventually arousing the ire of the famed prosecutor Thomas Dewey. He also brought the Cubans, with their incredible lineup of international players, to a Negro League World Series Championship in 1947.
Pompez presided over the twilight of the Negro League, holding it together as long as possible in the face of integration even as he helped his players make the transition to the majors. In his later days as a scout, he championed some of the brightest future Latino stars and became one of Latin America’s most vocal advocates for the game.
That today’s rosters are filled with names like Rodriguez, Pujols, Rivera, and Ortiz is a testament to the influence of Pompez and his contemporaries.
Cuban Star: How One Negro-League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball
by Adrian Burgos
Hill and Wang
Available April 26, 2011 in Hardcover
May 26, 2011
In this unflinching and inspiring autobiography, the boxing legend faces his single greatest competitor: himself.
Sugar Ray Leonard‘s brutally honest and uplifting memoir reveals in intimate detail for the first time the complex man behind the boxer. The Olympic hero, multichampionship winner, and beloved athlete waged his own personal battle with depression, rage, addiction, and greed.
Coming from a tumultuous, impoverished household and a dangerous neighborhood on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., in the 1970s, Sugar Ray Leonard rose swiftly and skillfully through the ranks of amateur boxing-and eventually went on to win a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics. With an extremely ill father and no endorsement deals, Leonard decided to go pro.
The Big Fight takes readers behind the scenes of a notoriously corrupt sport and chronicles the evolution of a champion, as Leonard prepares for the greatest fights of his life-against Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns, and Wilfred Benitez. At the same time Leonard fearlessly reveals his own contradictions and compulsions, his infidelity, and alcohol and cocaine abuse.
With honesty, humor, and hard-won perspective, Leonard comes to terms with both triumph and struggle-and presents a gripping portrait of remarkable strength, courage, and resilience, both in and out of the ring.
The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring
Sugar Ray Leonard (Author), Michael Arkush (Author)
Available June 6, 2011 in Hardcover
January 23, 2011
I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond
by Michael Oher with Don Yaeger
Available February 8, 2011 in Hardcover
The football star made famous in the hit film The Blind Side reflects on how far he has come from the circumstances of his youth.
Michael Oher is the young man at the center of the true story depicted in The Blind Side movie (and book) that swept up awards and accolades. Though the odds were heavily stacked against him, Michael had a burning desire deep within his soul to break out of the Memphis inner-city ghetto and into a world of opportunity. While many people are now familiar with Oher’s amazing journey, this is the first time he shares his account of his story in his own words, revealing his thoughts and feelings with details that only he knows, and offering his point of view on how anyone can achieve a better life.
Looking back on how he went from being a homeless child in Memphis to playing in the NFL, Michael talks about the goals he had for himself in order to break out of the cycle of poverty, addiction, and hopelessness that trapped his family for so long. He recounts poignant stories growing up in the projects and running from child services and foster care over and over again in search of some familiarity. Eventually he grasped onto football as his ticket out of the madness and worked hard to make his dream into a reality. But Oher also knew he would not be successful alone. With his adoptive family, the Touhys, and other influential people in mind, he describes the absolute necessity of seeking out positive role models and good friends who share the same values to achieve one’s dreams.
Sharing untold stories of heartache, determination, courage, and love, I Beat the Odds is an incredibly rousing tale of one young man’s quest to achieve the American dream.
July 5, 2010
Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson
Charles R. Smith Jr. (Author), Shane W. Evans (Illustrator)
Roaring Brook Press
Available 06/22/10 in Hardcover
Born as Arthur John Johnson in the southern state of Texas, Jack Johnson was one of the most renowned boxers of the 20th century. Through hard work and persistence he climbed the ranks, taking a swing and a jab and eventually busting the color barrier. As the first black man to win the Heavyweight Championship, there was more than a title on the line. Published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of this history-making bout (July 4, 1910), this is an extraordinary marriage of poetry, fabulous collage artwork, and a splendid achievement in its own right.
April 5, 2010
Simon & Schuster
Available 03/16/10 in Hardcover
Before Jackie Robinson integrated major league baseball in 1947, black and white ballplayers had been playing against one another for decades — even, on rare occasions, playing with each other. Interracial contests took place during the off-season, when major leaguers and Negro Leaguers alike fattened their wallets by playing exhibitions in cities and towns across America. These barnstorming tours reached new heights, however, when Satchel Paige and other African-American stars took on white teams headlined by the irrepressible Dizzy Dean. Lippy and funny, a born showman, the native Arkansan saw no reason why he shouldn’t pitch against Negro Leaguers. Paige, who feared no one and chased a buck harder than any player alive, instantly recognized the box-office appeal of competing against Dizzy Dean’s “All-Stars.” Paige and Dean both featured soaring leg kicks and loved to mimic each other’s style to amuse fans. Skin color aside, the dirt-poor Southern pitchers had much in common.
Historian Timothy M. Gay has unearthed long-forgotten exhibitions where Paige and Dean dueled, and he tells the story of their pioneering escapades in this engaging book. Long before they ever heard of Robinson or Larry Doby, baseball fans from Brooklyn to Enid, Oklahoma, watched black and white players battle on the same diamond. With such Hall of Fame teammates as Josh Gibson, Turkey Stearnes, Mule Suttles, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, and Bullet Joe Rogan, Paige often had the upper hand against Diz. After arm troubles sidelined Dean, a new pitching phenom, Bob Feller — Rapid Robert — assembled his own teams to face Paige and other blackballers. By the time Paige became Feller’s teammate on the Cleveland Indians in 1948, a rookie at age forty-two, Satch and Feller had barnstormed against each other for more than a decade. These often obscure contests helped hasten the end of Jim Crow baseball, paving the way for the game’s integration. Satchel Paige, Dizzy Dean, and Bob Feller never set out to make social history — but that’s precisely what happened. Tim Gay has brought this era to vivid and colorful life in a book that every baseball fan will embrace.
February 21, 2010
Available 05/11/10 in Hardcover
The first definitive biography of Henry Aaron — baseball’s great home-run champion and one of its most enduring legends.
As the steroid controversy has increasingly tarnished baseball’s image, Hank Aaron‘s achievements have come to seem all the more remarkable: the first player to pass Babe Ruth in home runs, Aaron held that record for thirty-three years while shattering other records (RBIs, total bases, extra-base hits) and setting new ones (hitting at least thirty home runs per season fifteen times). But his achievements run much deeper than his stats. Chronicling the social upheavals of the years during which Aaron played (1954 to 1976), Howard Bryant shows us how the dignity and determination with which he stood against racism — on and off the field, and as one of the first blacks in baseball’s upper management — helped transform the role and significance of the professional black athlete and turn Aaron into an national icon.
Eloquently written, detailed, and penetrating, this is a revelatory portrait of both the great ballplayer and the complicated private man.