Can You Identify These Famous African-American Athletes from a Fact?


By: Becky

5 Min Quiz

Image: Photo by Bob Sandberg

About This Quiz

How many of these famous African American athletes can you correctly identify? Take this quiz to find out.

African Americans have contributed to the fields of tennis, basketball, baseball, golf, boxing and football. Many contributors are dominant players and have recorded significant firsts in their fields. And some have even contributed to more than one field.

Jesse Owens is one of these famous African American athletes. Owens won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games: three in sprints and one in the long jump. Owens' wins were significant for many reasons, but because the 1936 Summer Olympics were held in Berlin, Germany at the height of Nazi power, Owens laid bare the myth of Aryan supremacy that Adolf Hitler and his followers promoted. Hitler's disappointment was palpable and he skipped the remainder of the games.

But, Owens wasn't the only African American athlete to cause controversy and raise the bar of world sports. Women such as Jackie Joyner Kersee, the Williams sisters and Alice Coachman (who was the first African American woman to win a gold medal), have not only made significant headway in their sports, they have set records.

Think you can name all 35 of these athletes? Let's get started.

He floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee

Muhammad Ali used to say "I float like a butterfly, stink like a bee." Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.


The first African American to play Major League Baseball

Jackie Robinson was the first African American player to play in the Major Leagues. Robinson played second base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.


He won four Olympic gold medals.

Jesse Owens won four Olympic gold medals in Track and Field. Owens ran in the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin, Germany.


Starred in Space Jam as himself

Michael Jordan starred in Space Jam as himself. He also had a successful line of Nike sneakers.


Turned pro golfer when he was 20 years old

Tiger Woods turned pro when he was only 20 years old. Woods ranks as one of the highest paid and most successful golfers of all time.


First African American to win a Grand Slam title

Althea Gibson was the first African American tennis player to win a Grand Slam title. Gibson also played pro golf.


Female Olympic gold medalist in Track and Field

Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. Rudolph was sometimes called The Black Gazelle.


Gave a Black Power salute on the Olympic podium

John Carlos gave a Black Power salute on the Olympic podium as he was being awarded a bronze medal in the 1968 Summer Olympic games. Carlos won his medal for his performance in the 200-meter dash.


Forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James plays forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers. James has also scored two Olympic medals.


Black gloves, black socks and no shoes on the Olympic podium

Tommie Smith wore black gloves, black socks and no shoes on the Olympic podium in 1968. Smith won his medal in Track and Field, but he also played in the National Football League.


The only African American man to ever win a Wimbledon singles title

Arthur Ashe was the only African American man to ever win a Wimbledon singles title. Ashe was the founder of the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS.


The Galveston Giant

Jack Johnson was called The Galveston Giant. Johnson was the first African American heavyweight boxing champion.


The NBA Finals MVP award is named after this player

The NBA Finals MVP award is named after Bill Russell. Russell played center for the Boston Celtics for most of his career.


Has been number one in singles tennis

Serena Williams is often the number one ranked singles tennis player. Williams' sister, Venus, is also a top-ranked tennis player.


Played in the NFL Pro Bowl ever year he was active

Jim Brown was invited to the Pro Bowl every year he was active. Brown played fullback for the Cleveland Browns.


Iconic point guard for the Lakers

Magic Johnson played point guard for the LA Lakers. He was also on the 1992 Olympic basketball Dream Team.


The baseball "Hammer"

Hank Aaron was called the "Hammer." He played played right field for the Milwaukee Braves.


He played 20 years with the LA Lakers

Kobe Bryant played his entire career with the LA Lakers. Bonus points if you know he was named after the Japanese beef.


The Brown Bomber

Boxer Joe Louis was called The Brown Bomber. Louis also played golf.


Ranked as the greatest female athlete of all time

Jackie Joyner Kersee is ranked as the greatest female athlete of all time. She has won six Olympic gold medals.


The oldest Major League rookie

At 42, Satchel Paige was the oldest Major League rookie. He played his rookie year with the Cleveland Indians.


One of two famous tennis sisters

Venus Williams is one of two famous tennis sisters. Williams and her sister, Serena, are top-ranked players.


Pro boxer with a line of grills

George Foreman is a former pro boxer who now has a line of indoor and outdoor grills. Foreman also won an Olympic gold medal at the 1968 Summer Games.


Olympic long jump champion

Carl Lewis was an Olympic long jump champion. Lewis was also a winning sprinter.


The first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal

Alice Coachman was the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Coachman won her medal for the high jump.


1988 Olympic figure skating champ

Debi Thomas won a bronze medal in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Thomas was also a physician.


He played for the Harlem Globetrotters

Wilt Chamberlain played for the Harlem Globetrotters before he began a career in the NBA. Chamberlain was nicknamed Wilt the Stilt.


19th century track cyclist

Marshall Taylor was a record-holding 19th century track cyclist. He turned pro in 1896 at the age of 18.


The Say Hey Kid

Wiillie Mays was called the Say Hey Kid. Mays played center field for the Giants for most of his career.


He developed a taste for ears

Mike Tyson bit off part of the ear of Evander Holyfield in 1997. Tyson was only 20 when he won his first heavyweight title.


Six-time NBA MVP

Kareem Abdul Jabbar is a six-time NBA MVP. He was known for his skyhook shot.


First African American Heisman Trophy winner

Ernie Davis won a Heisman Trophy in 1961. He was the first African American to win the honor.


Nicknamed the Big Bear

Boxer Sonny Liston was nicknamed the Big Bear. Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson in the first round in 1962 to become the heavyweight champion.


Known as Dr. J.

Julius Ervin was known as Dr. J. Erving was a popular player in the ABA before it merged with the NBA.


The first to run the 100-meter dash at the Olympics in under 11 seconds

Evelyn Ashford was the first athlete to run the 100-meter dash in under 11 second in the Olympic Games. She holds five Olympic gold medals.


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