Significant Black firsts in sports history

Posted 1 day ago  |  By Matt Whitener

The impact of Black athletes across the history of sports is an undeniable one, but also one that has not always been accomplished on equal footing. Of the many highs that have been accomplished, there have been just as many –if not more— that have also had to overcome the rules of the times they were accomplished in. This is a look back at many significant firsts, highlights, and noteworthy moments accomplished by Black athletes across the sporting spectrum, as well as the conditions that secured their significance.

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1884: First African-American MLB player (all-time): Moses Fleetwood Walker

1884: First African-American MLB player (all-time): Moses Fleetwood Walker

Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images

Technically, William Edward White was the first Black man to play professional baseball in 1879, but he did so while passing as white. However, it was Walker who did so outright as an African-American, playing catcher for the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884. He faced the intense racial scrutiny of the time and lasted only one season, becoming the last African-American to appear in the MLB for 63 years.

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1889: First Black Professional Soccer Player: Arthur Wharton

1889: First Black Professional Soccer Player: Arthur Wharton

Born in Jamestown of the Gold Coast (in modern-day Ghana), Wharton became the first Black professional soccer player in the English Professional League. Wharton was a goalie and occasional winger, who made 54 overall appearances across four professional seasons. In 2003, he was elected to the English Football Hall of Fame as a pioneer.

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1908: First Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion: Jack Johnson

1908: First Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion: Jack Johnson
Photo by Philipp Kester/ullstein bild via Getty Images

At the peak of the Jim Crow era in America, Johnson emerged as one of the nation’s biggest stars. In 1908, the Galveston, Texas, native beat Tommy Burns to claim the lineal world heavyweight title, via a stoppage in the 14 th round, to become the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion, a title he would carry for the next eight years.

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1908: First Black Olympic Gold Medalist: John Taylor

1908: First Black Olympic Gold Medalist: John Taylor
Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Although George Poage was the first African-American Olympian, when he captured two bronze medals in St. Louis four years prior, it was Taylor in 1908 who first reached the top of the podium. Hailing from Washington D.C. and the son of two former slaves, Taylor captured the gold running the third leg of the medley relays, covering 400 meters. In the same year, he would complete his degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Conor McGregor a massive favorite to defeat Dustin Poirier at UFC 257

By Zac Wassink  |  Last updated 1/20/21

Unsurprisingly, former two-division champion and top pay-per-view draw Conor McGregor (22-4-0) is a heavy favorite to topple Dustin Poirier (26-6-0) in the main event of this weekend’s UFC 257 pay-per-view. 

On Wednesday, ESPN’s David Purdum reported that multiple sportsbooks recently accepted six-figure bets on the outspoken Irishman to win for the second consecutive January. As of early Wednesday afternoon, BetOnline.ag listed McGregor as a -310 favorite to earn his 23rd professional victory. 

Poirier was a +260 underdog at that same time. 

“Saturday is trending to be our biggest UFC event ever, surpassing UFC 246, when McGregor took out Donald Cerrone,” PointsBet communications director Patrick Eichner told ESPN. 

McGregor hasn’t competed since he stopped Cerrone in 40 seconds in the main event of UFC 246 last January. News broke on Tuesday that the 32-year-old former champion is the subject of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed by a woman who reportedly has known McGregor for years, but that potential distraction isn’t yet impacting the odds for his bout versus Poirier. 

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Dana White on Conor McGregor: ‘I guarantee he will not fight in 2020’

By Blake Harper | Last updated 8/4/20

Conor McGregor remains one of the most popular names in UFC, but according to Dana White, the Irish brawler won’t be entering the Octagon again until at least 2021. The UFC President appeared on Barstool’s “My Mom’s Basement” podcast and made it clear that McGregor won’t be fighting for UFC in 2020.

“This year, he is retired,” White said. “He doesn’t have a fight this year, and he won’t have a fight this year. Conor McGregor will not fight in 2020. … I guarantee he will not fight in 2020.”

McGregor announced his retirement on Twitter back in June and told ESPN that he simply did not find the sport exciting anymore. If he is serious about retirement, he goes out as arguably the most popular fighter in UFC history, with a  22-4 MMA record that includes 19 knockouts. His last fight was against Donald Cerrone in January, as McGregor managed to beat him by TKO in just 40 seconds.

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Coach confirms Conor McGregor is ‘retired’ from UFC, MMA

Fight fans believing it’s only a matter of time before former two-division champion Conor McGregor comes out of his latest ” retirement” whenever UFC boss Dana White presents the outspoken Irishman with a financially-pleasing deal may not want to speak with McGregor’s coach about the situation.

As noted by Damon Martin of MMA Fighting, longtime McGregor coach John Kavanagh discussed his fighter’s latest sabbatical from the Octagon during an Instagram Live session and said that, as far as he knows, the soon-to-be 32-year-old has hung his gloves up for good.

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 6/30/20

Las Vegas cleared to host May 30, June 6 UFC shows

The UFC has cleared its final hurdle to return to Las Vegas amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, UFC boss Dana White confirmed to TMZ Sports that the Nevada State Athletic Commission approved the May 30 and June 6 events that will transpire at the UFC’s Apex in Vegas.

White told TMZ:

“I am so excited to be back in Vegas!!! Our Apex arena is incredible and the production value we can provide to fans is next level and it’s a safe environment for my fighters and my staff.”

Earlier this week, MMA Junkie’s Nolan King reported on UFC protocols for increased testing and additional social-distancing and self-isolation guidelines for fighters and corners ahead of shows occurring in Vegas. It’s believed these measures were necessary for the promotion to get the final go-ahead for upcoming events in the city and state.

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 5/27/20

UFC 249 canceled amid COVID-19 pandemic

UFC head Dana White had some high hopes for the sport even with the United States currently being the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. That included the UFC hosting weekly events on a private island until the pandemic passes.

It was not meant to be. White announced on Thursday that UFC 249, scheduled for next week, has been completely canceled. All future UFC events will also be postponed indefinitely.

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Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 4/9/20

Association of Ringside Physicians recommends ‘indefinite suspension’ of combat sports during coronavirus pandemic

It appears UFC boss Dana White is prepared to go against the advice of doctors if he plans to host multiple events during the spring and summer months. 

On the same day White announced Tony Ferguson would face Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight championship in the main event of UFC 249 on April 18 in an undisclosed location and told TMZ Sports that he’d secured a private island to host future cards, the Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP) called for the indefinite suspension of all combat sports:

It is our recommendation that all combat sporting events be postponed until further notice. This includes any and all events, regardless of the number of people involved.

Any combat sport taking place during this global pandemic places the athletes, officials, and anyone else involved in the event under unnecessary risk of infection and transmission of Covid-19. In addition, combat sports athletes often require medical attention after a bout, and we do not wish to see any additional strain on an already overwhelmed medical system.

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 4/7/20

Conor McGregor wastes Cowboy Cerrone in 40 seconds at UFC 246

Conor McGregor against Cowboy Cerrone turned out to be the mismatch many believed it was.

McGregor destroyed Cerrone in 40 seconds to win via TKO at UFC 246 in Las Vegas on Saturday night. He caught Cerrone with a kick that stunned his opponent and then followed up with a big knee and a few punches that sent Cerrone into the cage. From there, McGregor overwhelmed Cerrone with multiple punches.

Cerrone ended up on the mat, and it was only a matter of time before referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight. Feeling Cerrone could no longer defend himself, Dean stopped the fight after 40 seconds, giving McGregor the win.

The TKO marked McGregor’s first win in the UFC since November 2016. The 31-year-old boxed against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017, lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018, and did not compete at all in 2019. He is now 22-4 in his MMA career and has finished 19 of his wins via a KO or TKO.

The attendance at T-Mobile Arena was over 19,000, and the gate was over $11 million, ranking it as the fourth-largest in UFC history. McGregor took home a Performance of the Night bonus for his effort.

The UFC seems eager to set up a McGregor vs. Jorge Masvidal fight at some point in the future.

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Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Larry Brown | Last updated 1/19/20

Floyd Mayweather says he is officially done with the ‘brutal sport’ of boxing

The 42-year-old has a 50-0 record

Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather is done with boxing, for real this time. He says the “brutal sport” is behind him, according to Reuters.

Mayweather has retired before, first in 2007 and again in 2015, only to come back and extend his win streak and get paid. This time he claims he is officially hanging up his gloves, which means no rematches against Manny Pacquiao or Canelo Alvarez. 

The 42-year-old has a 50-0 record, and says he is receiving calls about fights but that ultimately, “my health is my wealth.”

Via Reuters:

“Boxing is a very, very brutal sport. In the last few years a lot of fighters have died inside that squared circle. You have got to know when to hang it up. I had a great career.”

This retirement does not mean he will leave the world of boxing completely.

“I’ll still travel and do exhibitions. I make great money doing exhibitions — between $10 and $30 million,” he said, adding in typical Mayweather fashion, “I think I make more doing that than most fighters make fighting.”

He is now focused on his Mayweather + Fitness gym franchise and promotion company Mayweather Promotions. 

Mayweather says he may venture more into MMA to “build his brand,” as he did with his fight against Conor McGregor, but for now believes boxing is king.

“Eventually I will move on to build my brand in MMA but for right now I’m in boxing, and boxing will always be at the top as long as I’m involved,” he said.

As far as his looking back on his career, Mayweather says he is “happy with how everything played out.”

This may be the end of Mayweather the boxer but he will no doubt continue to keep his hands in the sport in one way or another. 

https://www.cbssports.com/boxing/news/floyd-mayweather-says-he-is-officially-done-with-the-brutal-sport-of-boxing/

By: Shanna McCarriston

UFC Uruguay: Liz Carmouche on first fight with Valentina Shevchenko, expectations in title rematch, experience facing Ronda Rousey

Liz Carmouche gets a rare opportunity on Saturday night when she battles Valentina Shevchenko for Shevchenko’s flyweight title in the main event of UFC Uruguay.

Carmouche (13-6) made MMA history when she was in the UFC’s first ever female fight when she headlined UFC 157 back in February 2013. Early on, Carmouche had Ronda Rousey in a bit of trouble, locking her in a standing rear-naked choke/face crank. But the UFC Hall of Famer escaped and won the thrilling affair late in the first round.

Realizing she was too small to compete at 135 pounds, Carmouche moved down to flyweight at the end of 2017. Moving down proved to be the right decision, as Carmouche has gone 2-1 to earn a crack at Shevchenko.

Days before her second shot at glory, Carmouche sat down with Sporting News to discuss her fight with Shevchenko in September 2010, if she thought she’d ever get to this point and what valuable experiences she took from taking on Rousey.

(Editor’s note: This interview was edited for clarity.)

Sporting News: How much do you remember from the first fight against Shevchenko?

Liz Carmouche: Not much because I was still so green. The biggest thing I took from the fight was that I was actually supposed to fight her sister and that’s who I signed the contract for. The organization was super shady and pulled one over on me when I arrived at the fight. I was able to pull off a win by an upkick and cutting her a bit. The doctor had to stop it because of the excessive blood loss.

SN: Since the fight took place so long ago, were you able to find any highlights to study from?

LC: Not at all. The organization was super shady. The fight wasn’t very well lit as it took place outside in a dark area on a reservation without any cell phone reception. I had friends and family at the fight as I liked having one of them to record my fights so I can have tape and study. I haven’t been able to find anything.

I showed up to the venue and Valentina was on the poster. After talking with the promoter, I was promised to pay her an extra couple hundred bucks and a daily per diem which they didn’t do.

SN: Looking back, did you ever think you’d be at this point in your career coming out of that fight?

LC: Not at all. Are you kidding me? At that point, I was still going to college full-time and dragging around my textbooks every time I had to go away for a fight. I was taking last-minute phone calls for matches, training, and working. I was doing all of that and not even sure if fighting was something that had a future for me. It really didn’t look like women were making a career out of it. So, I certainly didn’t know if that was something I could do. Fast forward to nine years later and where I am at, I could never have anticipated this. Ever.

I had zero interest in going to college. I used my GI Bill to help pay for training. I hated doing group projects or deal with people in the class who aren’t paying attention. That made me go insane. I was looking for any way out. My sanity was fighting. I looked forward to every day because of fighting. I had to keep my grades up or lose my GI Bill because it was paying for everything to help me train.

SN: Do you take anything from the Rousey fight that you could bring into Saturday?

LC: I took a lot from that Ronda fight. What that taught me was one – just how to manage my time. One of the things I had to do was that I was told by the UFC PR team that they need a minimum of two hours every day just to do interviews. I’m like, ‘That’s a lot of talking. Two hours every day. Are you kidding me?’ I figured out with those two hours how to budget my time. At night, I had to work and I was still going to school and doing all this stuff. I learned how to manage my time efficiently.

The other thing I learned is the adversity that I can face under everything I went through with the buildup to that fight. I knew I wanted that fight. I knew I could win that fight. I had no doubts about that in my mind. I wasn’t sure if I had a future in my fight career. Even though I lost that fight, I knew that there was plenty I could take away from the experience. I knew the work ethic I needed to put in to be that much better to learn from the lessons that were taught to me that day and how to take away and learn and grow as a fighter.

What I also took away was that I wasn’t even fighting in the correct weight class. When she rehydrated, she was enormous compared to me. I was still 135 when I walked into the Octagon. I’m genuinely a flyweight. Ronda looked like she was 155. I was thinking, “Oh my goodness, here we go again. I’m at another disadvantage.’

I’ve learned so much and grown from that fight. For me to focus on that fight would be taking a step backward and I’m only going forward.

SN: The fight ends and contemplating went wrong, did you think getting a title shot was possible since the company hadn’t implemented any more weight classes at that time?

LC: After the Ronda fight, I wasn’t sure what the UFC held for me. I think coming out of that fight, I didn’t know if losing that fight meant that I could get cut because I knew the rumors at the time was how easily fighters could get cut from the UFC. I didn’t know what that meant for me and also if I was kept on, how long it would take to get back into title contention. I certainly didn’t think at the time it would be at flyweight. I thought it would have to happen at bantamweight again or possibly have to go up a division.

SN: The consensus among MMA pundits is that Valentina is the second-best female fighter in the world behind Amanda Nunes. How do you view Valentina as a fighter?

LC: As the person standing in the way of my belt because that’s all I see.

Written By Steven Muehlhausen

https://www.sportingnews.com/us/mma/news/ufc-uruguay-liz-carmouche-first-fight-with-valentina-shevchenko-what-she-expects-in-the-title-rematch-and-what-she-learned-from-facing-ronda-rousey/13yl4wr2r39am17tly6sgsyv9k