British African Caribbean sports British African Caribbean Are well represented in traditional sports such as football and rugby, and have represented the nation at the highest level of sports. Some British African Caribbean’s have become international sports stars and top global earners in their chosen sporting field. Racism in UK sport However, racism has always been a problem and has haunted popular sport such as football, it can occur on any pitch, course, track or arena. This can be especially true of sports such as golf or tennis in which racial minorities have a shorter professional history. However there is never any excuse for racist actions or chants pertaining to a particular sport and to say that racism only comes about when racial minorities become involved in a sport because places the blame on the players rather than those who actually perpetuate racism. Confronting racism in sport Many times there have been many news stories over the years regarding initiatives to eradicate racism in sport as well as official investigations into racist incident involving players and fans. For example, the Show Racism the Red Card campaign is an anti-racist charity that tries to use professional footballers as role models to fight racism. However, not all efforts to confront racism in sport make the news. Every time one spectator reports the racist chanting of another, every time one player tells another that racist attitudes aren’t cool, and every time that players and spectators come together to congratulate the achievements of others regardless of their race, racism is confronted in sport. The reason it is so important to confront racism at all levels is to ensure that each spectator and player can enjoy a fair and equal experience of the event. African Caribbean Sports Champions Athletics In Athletics the first Olympic sprint medals came from Harry Edward, born in Guyana, who won two individual bronze medals at the 1920 games in Antwerp. Many years, sprinter Linford Christi, born in St Andrew Parish, Jamaica, won 23 major championship medals, more than any British male athletes to date. Welsh Hurdler Colin Jackson, held the 110 meters hurdles world record for 11 years between 1993 and 2004. Jamaican-born Tessa Sanderson became the British African Caribbean women to win Olympic Gold, receiving the medal for her javelin performance in 1984 Los Angeles Olympic. Denise Lewis, of Jamaican heritage, won heptathlon gold in 2000 Sydney Olympics, a game where 13 of Britain’s 18 track and field representative had African Caribbean roots. Four years later in Athens Olympics, Kelly Holmes, achieved the rare feat of taking gold in both the 800 and 1500 metre races. In the same games, Britain’s men’s 4x100 metre relay team of Marlon Devenish, Darren Campbell, Mark Lewis-Francis and Jason Gardner all of African-Caribbean heritage, beat the favoured United States quartet to claim Olympic gold. Boxing In boxing, British boxers of Caribbean background have played a prominent role in the national scene since early 1980’s. In 1995 frank Bruno, whose mother was a Pentecostal Lay-preacher and from Jamaica. became Britain’s first heavyweight boxing champion in the 20th century. Bruno’s reign was shortly followed by Lenox Lewis, who defeated Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson to become the world premier heavyweight during the late 1990’s. Middleweights Chris Eubank, who spent his early years in Jamaica, and Nigel Ben, of Barbadian descent, both claimed world titles and fought a series of brutal battles in the early 1990’s. In the Sydney Olympics of 2000, Audley Harrison (who was of Jamaican heritage) became Britian’s first heavyweight gold medallist. Other boxing champions from the British African Caribbean community included welterweight Llyod Honeyghan nicknamed the ‘Ragamuffin Man’ in Cricket In Cricket, a long popular sport amongst African Caribbean’s both in the West Indies and the UK. After the period of widespread immigration, tours of England by the combined West Indian cricket team became cultural celebrations of Caribbean culture in Britain, particularly at cricket grounds such as the, The Oval in South London. Almost all the great West Indian cricketers became regular features of the domestic county game, including Garfield Sobers, Vivian Richards and Michael Holding. In turn, British cricketers of Caribbean origins also began to make an impact in English cricket. In the 1980’s-1990s, players including Gladstone Small (born in Barbados), Devon Malcolm (born in Jamaica) and Philip deFreitas (born in Dominica) represented England, making significant contributions to the side. Motor sport In Motor sport, Lewis Hamilton whose grandparents emigrated from Grenada achieved the highest honour in Motor sport, winning the FIA Formula One World Championship in 2008, only his second season in the sport, after narrowly finishing second in the championship in his debut season. Football In Football the first West Indian-born footballer to play at a high level in Britain was Andrew Watson, who played for Queens Park (Glasgow) and went on to play for Scotland, born in May 1857 in British Guyana, Watson lived and worked in Scotland and came to be known as one of the best players of his generation. He played in 36 games for Queens Park and also appeared for the London Swifts in the English FA Cup championships of 1882, making him then first black player in British cup history. Watson earned 2 Scottish cup medals and 4 Charity Cup Matches. Watson’s place in football history for Queen’s Park - making him the first African Caribbean man to reach the boardroom included a spell in management as Club Secretary medal’s during his career, Who’s Who also acknowledged his performance in international. Other early footballers included Walter Tull of Barbadian decent, who played for north London club Tottenham Hotspur in the early 20th century. Some years later, Jamaican-born Lloyd ‘Lindy’ Delapenha made an impact playing for Middlesbrough, from 1950-57, becoming a leading goal scorer and the first black player to win a championship medal. However, it was not until the 1970s that African Caribbean players began to make a major impact on the game. Clyde Best (West Ham 1969-1976), born in Bermuda, paved the way for players such as Cyrille Regis (born in French Guyana), Luther Blissett (born in Jamaica. Blissett and Regis joined Viv Anderson to form the first wave of black footballers to play for England national team. Although the number of players of African Caribbean origins in English league was increasing far beyond proportion in wider society, when black players represented the English national team, they still had to endure racism from sections of England supporter’s. When s selected to play for England, Cyril Regis received a bullet through the mail with the threat, “You’ll get one of these through your knees if you step on our Wembley turf”. By the 1980’s the British African-Caribbean community was well represented at all playing levels in the game. John Barns, born in Jamaica, was one of the most talented players of his generation and one of the few footballers to win every honour in the domestic English game including the PFA Players’ player of the year. Player’s of African-Caribbean origin continued to excel in English football. In the 1990’s Paul Ince - whose parents were from Trinidad went on to Captain Manchester United, Liverpool F.C and the English national team. The contribution was reciprocated when a number of British born footballer included Robbie Earl, Frank Sinclair and Darryl Powel represented the Jamaica national football team in the 1998 World Cup Finals. Derby County’s Michael Johnson, one of a number of British-born players to play for the Jamaica national team. At the turn of the millennium, British born black footballers constituted about 13% of the English league. In 2005 World Cup Finals, Theo Walcott, a striker of English and Jamaican parents, became the youngest ever player to join an England World Cup squad - a side which included African Caribbean player in every Department.
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