Commemorating Ralph Boston's achievements after his demise at 83

Ralph Boston broke Jesse Owens' incredible hold on the world record when he leaped 8.21 meters in 1960 in Walnut, California.

Ralph Boston in a file photo (Credit- Twitter)
By Pushkar Pandey | May 2, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Ralph Boston, the Olympic long jump champion who in August 1960 broke Jesse Owens’s 25-year-old world record in the competition and a year later became the first jumper to break the 27-foot barrier, passed away on Sunday at his home in Peachtree City, Georgia, Atlanta. He was 83. According to his son Todd, the cause was stroke complications.

Federation on Ralph passing away

The USA Track and Field federation issued the following statement, “With the passing of Ralph Boston, our sport has lost a legend. Boston was the greatest long jumper of all time, breaking the record six times, and was a member of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. His contributions and legacy will endure for many years to come.”

“I’m devastated about Ralph Boston’s passing”, tweeted Carl Lewis, a four-time Olympic long jump champion. “He had a big impact on my life growing up and I used to look up to him. His voice and encouragement will be missed. As an athlete, supporter, and mentor, he revolutionized the sport. Jumpers, please remember his name, and rest in peace.”

Ralph Harold Boston was born on on May 9, 1939 in Laurel, Mississippi to Peter and Eulalia Boston, who lived about 85 miles southeast of Jackson. His mother was a homemaker, and his dad was a railroad firefighter who switched to farming after losing his right eye in a hunting mishap. The youngest of ten children, Ralph, worked in the fields with his father before school. He was an American track athlete who won three Olympic medals and broke the long jump record by leaping 27 feet (8.2 meters) for the first time.

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Achievements of Ralph Boston

3) Olympics 1960

Ralph Boston broke Jesse Owens’ incredible hold on the world record when he leaped 8.21 meters in 1960 in Walnut, California. Three weeks later, at the Olympics in Rome, Boston, Ralph was 21 at the time, broke Owens’ Olympic record from the 1936 Berlin Games by finishing with 8.12 meters, just one centimeter ahead of his US teammate Bo Roberson. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, he finished second to Britain’s Lynn Davies for a silver medal. At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, he finished third to Bob Beamon’s incredible 8.90-meter leap for a bronze medal.

2) Amateur Athletic Union (1961-1966)

From 1961 to 1966, Boston won the long jump Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national title six times in a row. In 1963, he also recorded the longest triple jump by an American. After handing Igor Ter-Ovanesyan the record, he regained it a few months before the games, first in Kingston, Jamaica, and then improved it at the 1964 Olympic Trials. He then exchanged the record back to the Tokyo Olympics as the world record holder. Boston and Ter-Ovanesyan switched off in the lead during the Olympic final. Boston had the advantage going into the fifth round but fouled as Ter-Ovanesyan and Lynn Davies jumped over him. He was able to outjump Ter-Ovanesyan on his final jump, but he was unable to catch Davies and was forced to settle for the silver medal instead.

1) Six Hall of Fame

Boston has received recognition for his accomplishments by being inducted into six Hall of Fame, including the U. S. Hall of Fame for Track and Field in the U.S. Along with the Tennessee State University Athletics Hall of Fame, there is the Olympic Hall of Fame. His name is also on the TSU Wellness Center. Boston maintained his humility and commitment to serving his community despite his many accomplishments.

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