Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor (November 26, 1878 – June 21, 1932) was an American track cyclist who began his amateur career while he was still a teenager in Indianapolis, Indiana. He became a professional racer in 1896, at the age of 18, and won the sprint event at the 1899 world track championships in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to become the first African American to achieve the level of world champion and the second black athlete to win a world championship in any sport. Taylor also set numerous world records in the sprint discipline in race distances ranging from the quarter-mile (0.4 km) to the two-mile (3.2 km). Taylor was an American sprint champion in 1899 and 1900, and completed races in the U.S., Europe and Australasia. He retired in 1910, at the age of 32, to his home in Worcester, Massachusetts.
In 1928, Taylor self-published his autobiography, The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World, but severe financial difficulties forced him into poverty. He spent the final two years of his life in Chicago, Illinois, where he died in 1932. Throughout his athletic career Taylor challenged the racial prejudice he encountered on and off the velodrome and became a pioneering role model for other athletes facing racial discrimination. Taylor was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1989. Other tributes include memorials and historic markers in Indianapolis, Worcester, and at his gravesite in Chicago. Several cycling clubs, trails, and events in the U.S. have been named in his honor, as well as the Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis and Major Taylor Boulevard in Worcester. Taylor has also been memorialized in a television mini-series and a song.
Content + Photo: Wikipedia0