COURTESY OF GUEST BLOGGER: Sarah Zurawa, Skirmish USA/Pocono Whitewater
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Most people know Jim Thorpe as the All-American, Native American athlete. As a river guide, I know it goes well beyond that. Jim Thorpe was named Wa-thohuck, meaning “bright path” which is appropriate given his track record. Pun intended. In 1907, he joined the track and field team at Carlisle Indian Industrial School. He played minor-league baseball, then was named first-team all American for football! In the 1912 Olympics, he won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon. Shortly after, Thorpe was stripped of his medals when they discovered that he got paid for playing minor-league baseball.
Most people expected Jimmy to give up on life, but he did just the opposite. He went on to play baseball for the New York Giants. He got married to his Carlisle sweetheart, had babies with her, and then got divorced. He starred in movies, coached a football, soccer, and track team, and had more babies with two more wives. He also briefly served in the United States Marines.
Jim Thorpe was basically the busiest man alive – so busy that it may have been too much. In 1953, Jim Thorpe died of a massive heart attack. A few years after his death, his medals were reinstated. Better late than never, we suppose. Jim Thorpe was buried in the town of Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania. The town changed its name to Jim Thorpe to celebrate the life of the greatest athlete of all time and his memorial can be found here.
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