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Robert Beamon

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Information about Robert Beamon

Profile image of Robert Beamon

Profession

Category:
SportsMakers
Occupation(s):
Long Jumper

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Europe, Africa, Asia
Favorite Quote:
You have to keep going until you've got it right.

Birthplace

Born:
8/29/1946
Birth Location:
New York, New York

Profession

Category:
SportsMakers
Occupation(s):
Long Jumper

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Europe, Africa, Asia
Favorite Quote:
You have to keep going until you've got it right.

Birthplace

Born:
8/29/1946
Birth Location:
New York
See how Robert Beamon is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Olympic gold medalist and record-breaking track and field star Bob Beamon was born on August 29, 1946, in Jamaica, New York. When he was eight months old, his mother, Naomi Brown Beamon, died of tuberculosis. On account of his stepfather's incarceration, Beamon’s maternal grandmother, Bessie, became his primary caregiver.

Beamon’s childhood was set against a background of violence, gangs and drugs. During a fight at school, Beamon struck a teacher and was expelled. He was sent to a juvenile detention center and then an alternative school for delinquents in New York. At this school, he learned discipline and began to look away from street culture. Beamon used sports as a means to focus his attention and energy toward positive goals. He regularly broke track records at the local and state levels. After graduating from high school, Beamon attended North Carolina A&T to be close to his ill grandmother. When she died, he transferred to the University of Texas-El Paso, a school with a prominent track and field team.

In 1968, Beamon qualified for the Olympics in Mexico City. Four months before, he had been suspended from the University of Texas-El Paso track team for refusing to compete against Brigham Young University, a Mormon college with racist policies. This left Beamon without a coach. However, Olympian Ralph Boston began to coach him unofficially. On October 18, 1968, Beamon made Olympic history when he broke the world record for the long jump. Beamon jumped 29 feet, 4 ½ inches, beating the previous record by nearly two feet, setting a record that stood for twenty-three years, and becoming the first man to jump more than 28 feet.

Beamon graduated from Adelphi University in 1972 with a degree in sociology. In 1999, Beamon and his wife, Milana Walter Beamon, co-wrote a book about his life, The Man Who Could Fly. He has been inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Olympic Hall of Fame.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bob Beamon interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bob Beamon discusses his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bob Beamon discusses his mother, father, grandmother and stepfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bob Beamon discusses his earliest memories, including an overview of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bob Beamon discusses his early role models
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bob Beamon talks about his education and his expulsion from school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bob Beamon details his troubled past and how sports became a constructive outlet for his energy
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bob Beamon discusses those who inspired and influenced him as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bob Beamon discusses his friendship with Brother Patterson and how music entered his life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bob Beamon discusses his time at Jamaica High School and how he found his athletic talent
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bob Beamon talks about his popularity in school and about his public image
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bob Beamon talks about the famous olympians who visited his school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bob Beamon discusses his Olympic achievements
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bob Beamon recalls his experiences at the University of Texas, El Paso
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bob Beamon talks fondly about his athletic coach Wayne Vandenberg
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bob Beamon recalls his experiences in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bob Beamon talks more about his Olympic experience and his belief in creative visualization
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bob Beamon discusses his Olympic success