Simon & Schuster, 2014
WINNER OF THE 2002 WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR PRIZE
In 1936 athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics and, two years later, boxer Joe Louis won a crushing victory to become heavyweight champion of the world. Despite their fame and success, both men would find themselves barred from certain hotels and would have to eat outside restaurants because of the colour of their skin. However. by their example, they gave hope to millions of black people around the world as they became the first black superstars.
Donald McRae’s award-winning dual biography is a brilliant portrait of the two men, who became close friends despite their very different career paths: within days of Olympic glory, Owens was banned from competing again, and was forced to spend his days racing against horses to earn a living before becoming a spokesman for the sporting ideal. Meanwhile Louis won and lost a fortune, eventually battling with drug addiction and mental illness. McRae’s vivid account of their lives away from the public eye, and the era in which they lived, is compelling and tragic.