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    who was the first asian american athlete to become a gold medalist at the olympics?


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    Asian Americans in sports

    Asian Americans in sports

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    Asian Americans have been involved in sports for as long as they have existed. They have had careers in the NFL, Olympics, PGA Tour, NBA, and many more global sports organizations. Athletes like Tommy Kono, Tiger Woods, Apolo Ohno, and Kristi Yamaguchi have been seen as trailblazers and game-changers in their sports. They have gone from breaking color barriers in the NHL and NBA to becoming world champions in their respective sports. Many of these great athletes' careers fell into the shadows of sports history, but their impact will forever remain concrete in the sports realm.


    1 Basketball

    2 Multisport Athletes

    3 Football

    4 Mixed martial arts

    5 Olympics

    5.1 List of medalists

    6 Other sports 7 See also 8 Notes 9 References


    Wataru Misaka broke the BAA (the precursor to the NBA) color barrier when he played for the New York Knicks in the 1947–48 season.[1] Prior to his brief professional career, Misaka helped lead the Utah Utes to victories in the 1944 NCAA and 1947 NIT championships. Another Asian American NBA player was Raymond Townsend. Townsend played for the Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers from 1978 to 1982.[1] Rex Walters played from 1993 to 2000 with the Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat;[1] he is presently the head coach for the University of San Francisco basketball team.[2] After playing basketball at Harvard University, point guard Jeremy Lin signed with the NBA's Golden State Warriors in 2010[1] and won an NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors in the 2018-2019 NBA season. Lin currently plays basketball in the NBA G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz is also of partial Filipino-American descent.

    Current Kansas Jayhawks assistant coach Kurtis Townsend is Raymond Townsend's brother.[3]

    Erik Spoelstra, whose mother is Filipino, became the youngest coach ever in NBA history. He is currently the head coach of the Miami Heat.[4]

    Bobby Webster, whose mother is Japanese America, is currently serving as general manager for the Toronto Raptors of the NBA.

    Multisport Athletes[edit]

    Hines Ward-Pittsburgh Steelers

    Wally Yonamine in 1951

    This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

    A notable early Asian American multisport athlete was Wally Yonamine. Yonamine played professionally in the NFL for a single season with the San Francisco 49ers in 1947. In his one season with the team, he had 19 carries for 74 yards and caught 3 passes for 40 yards.[5] After his brief career in the NFL Yonamine traveled overseas to play baseball. In 1951, he became the first American to play professional baseball in Japan, leading off for the Yomiuri Giants.

    A well known Asian American that played in the NFL was Hines Ward. Hines father served in the US Army and his mother was a Korean woman named Young He. At a young age Hines moved to Atlanta, Georgia when his father was stationed in Germany. Not soon after his father abandoned him and his family and his mother raised him on her own. Ward was skilled in both football and baseball. Prior to playing wide receiver at the University of Georgia, Ward was drafted by the Miami Marlins and offered a $25,000 signing bonus.[6] He was drafted 92nd overall in the NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and played all 14 seasons for the organization.[7] Along with being a magnificent athlete, Ward spoke out against discrimination issues that were occurring in his birthplace of South Korea.

    Walter "Sneeze" Achiu may have been the first great Asian American multisport athlete. He became the first person of east Asian descent to play in the National Football League.[8] At the University of Dayton, he was a three-sport athlete participating in football, baseball, and track. Walter Achiu was inducted into the University of Dayton Hall of Fame in 1974.[8] After his' time in the NFL, Achiu went on to become a professional wrestling champion when he competed in the 1950s.[8]


    Norm Chow was the head coach for the University of Hawaii from 2012 to 2015 and former offensive coordinator for UCLA from 2008 and 2010 after a short stint with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL, after 23 years of coaching other college teams, including four years as offensive coordinator at USC. From 1923-1926, Arthur Matsu, who Japanese and Scottish, was the quarterback for The College of William & Mary football team. Matsu played one season professionally with the Dayton Triangle, before a long and successful coaching career. In 1962, half Filipino Roman Gabriel was the first Asian American to drafted as an NFL quarterback. Dat Nguyen was an NFL middle linebacker who was an all-pro selection in 2003 for the Dallas Cowboys. In 1998, he was named an All-American and won the Bednarik Award as well as the Lombardi Award, while playing for Texas A&M University. Hines Ward, who was born to a Korean mother and an African American father, is a former NFL wide receiver who was the MVP of Super Bowl XL. Ward also won the 12th season of the television series. Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is of Filipino and Italian descent. While playing for the Patriots, Bruschi won three Super Bowl rings and was a two-time All-Pro selection. Bruschi is currently an NFL analyst at ESPN. Younghoe Koo, the current kicker for the Atlanta Falcons, was born in South Korea and is the fourth player in NFL history to have been born in South Korea.[a] 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, 1st overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is of partial Korean descent.[10]

    Source : en.wikipedia.org

    Media fail to give REAL first Asian American Olympic gold medalist her due

    Filipina American Vicki Manalo Draves was the first Asian American to win Olympic gold. But recent articles gave a man credit for something she did.

    Media fail to give REAL first Asian American Olympic gold medalist her due

    Posted on Dec 15, 2016 by Devin Israel Cabanilla

    Vicki Manalo Draves on the podium at the 1948 London Olympics. (Screenshot of video via the International Olympic Committee.)

    Earlier this month, memorial stories started running which honored the passing of the purported first Asian American Olympic gold medalist. Sammy Lee of California was revered for his feats in diving.

    Articles reflected on Lee’s admirable determination during the 1948 London games to challenge the discriminatory sports world as a Korean American. He won his first gold medal in Aug. 5, 1948, and a bronze at the same Olympics. He won another gold at the 1952 games in Helsinki.

    Unfortunately, declarations of his groundbreaking feat for Asian Americans became a matter — once again — of a man getting credit for something a woman did.

    The first Asian American Olympic gold medalist was a Filipina American woman. Her name was Victoria Manalo Draves. Manalo Draves (Draves was her married name) was the first woman diver to win two golds in the same Olympics, and she won her first gold medal in springboard diving on Aug. 3, 1948 — two days before Lee won his first gold medal in platform diving.

    “Obviously it’s just wrong”, said Shannon Urabe, the visitor services assistant manager at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, located in Seattle. “We shouldn’t assume it’s men who achieve in sports first. It’s especially hard to find female Asian American heroes.”

    Vicki Manalo Draves, who died in 2010, went through the same trials of racial segregation as Lee did, with the additional difficulty of facing bias against women. At one point, Manalo Draves was forced to use her British mother’s maiden name to gain access to swimming facilities that barred people of color.

    The lack of celebration and recognition of women in the sports world is sadly commonplace. Many media outlets accepted that a man was first in an achievement and this misinformation spread.

    We at the Seattle-based Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) took up the effort to ask major news outlets for a correction: the New York Times, NBC News and the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times and NBC News quickly made updates and corrections to their articles, but not the Los Angeles Times — which missed its own 2010 story on Manalo Draves’ groundbreaking Olympic achievements.

    “I was disappointed by the dismissive response I received from the [L.A. Times] whose technically narrow view of journalism did not seem to allow a more expansive and truthful historical context to his article,” FANHS member Ador Yano said.

    (The L.A. Times was also called out recently for its lack of editorial tact in publishing letters that seemingly validated and condoned the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII.)

    The effect of the preconceived notion of who belongs in “Asian America” also can’t be ignored.

    Psychologist E.J.R. David points out that while Filipinos and South Asians compose half of all Asian Americans today, articles on “Asian Americans” often only include people with East Asian ancestry — those with Chinese, Japanese and Korean ancestry.

    Or, as he puts it bluntly: “The majority of Asian Americans today are BROWN, not yellow!”

    No one is diminishing Sammy Lee’s achievements — being the first Asian American man to win an Olympic gold medal is notable. In real life, Lee and Manalo Draves were teammates who respected each other, good friends (Lee gave her away at her wedding), practiced the same sport, represented the same nation and succeeded in reaching gold together at the same Olympics.

    “I think it’s interesting that the attempt at a diversity story in sports ended up marginalizing women while trying to highlight ethnicity,” said Emily Kutzler, who studies media research. ”The story of both of them would have meant just as much.”

    That would have been a great story to tell.

    Vicki Manalo Draves at the 1948 London Olympics. (Screenshot via the International Olympic Committee.)


    Tags: Olympics, sports, women.

    Devin Israel Cabanilla

    Devin Israel Cabanilla is an advocate for healthcare equity working in local healthcare institutions. He is also Principal Manager for Idea Threads Consulting providing Cross Cultural Management support, and an officer in the Filipino American National Historical Society Greater Seattle Chapter. Devin is a frequent speaker on Asian Pacific American issues, and organizes public events around ethnic history and social justice. His graduate work was around International Community Development and Business Administration.


    The Seattle Globalist ceased to operate on September 30, 2020. This site is an archive.

    Our mission is to elevate diverse voices through media. The Seattle Globalist is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

    Source : seattleglobalist.com

    Vicki Draves and Sammy Lee become the first Asian Americans to win an Olympic gold medal for the U.S.

    On August 6, 1948, American diver Vicki Draves wins gold at the London Olympics. Two days later, her good friend and fellow diver Sammy Lee takes gold as well,

    Year 1948 Month Day August 06

    Vicki Draves and Sammy Lee become the first Asian Americans to win an Olympic gold medal for the U.S.

    On August 6, 1948, American diver Vicki Draves wins gold at the London Olympics. Two days later, her good friend and fellow diver Sammy Lee takes gold as well, making them the first Asian Americans to win Olympic gold medals for the United States.

    Draves was the daughter of an English maid and a Filipino chef and musician, while Lee’s parents were of Korean descent and ran what he called “a little chop suey restaurant.” Both grew up in California, where public pools were whites-only and non-whites were only allowed to swim for a brief period one day a week. When he couldn’t use the pool, Lee practiced diving by jumping into a pit full of sand. Draves (nee Manalo) hoped to join the Fairmont Hotel Swimming and Diving Club but was barred due to her race—she eventually joined another club started by the Fairmont’s coach, going by Vicki Taylor to hide her racial identity. Despite these obstacles, Lee and Draves rose to the top of the American diving scene, becoming friends in the process. It was Lee who introduced Vicki to Lyle Draves, who became her coach and husband.

    Draves recounted turning to Lee and telling him “I can’t do this, Sammy” before her gold-medal dive, to which he responded, “Get up there and do what you are supposed to do.” Getting to the board turned out to be the hard part, as she later remembered: “I sort of sailed through it, and I knew I hit it when I was underwater and I thought, 'Oh boy, thank you, God.’” Lee’s win two days later was his first of two Olympic golds: four years later, he took gold in Helsinki, becoming the first man to win consecutive gold medals for platform diving. Weightlifter Tommy Kono and swimmers Yoshinobu Oyakawa and Ford Konno all won gold as well in 1952, and in the decades that followed many more Asian Americans would make headlines at the Olympics, including Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi and Apolo Ohno.

    READ MORE: Asian American Milestones: A Timeline

    Source : www.history.com

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