Was Jim Thorpe Really a Ballroom Dancing Champion?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to dancing and dancers and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the dancing urban legends featured so far.

DANCING URBAN LEGEND: Jim Thorpe was a ballroom champion dancer.

Awhile back, I wrote about the fact that, unbeknown to most of his biographers for decades before it was discovered, Jim Thorpe had played professional basketball for awhile in the 1920s.

Jim Thorpe was really one of the greatest athletes of the 20th Century.

A star of track and field (and Olympic Gold Medalist), Thorpe also played professional baseball, basketball AND football!!!

However, amusingly enough, Thorpe’s athletic dominance was not just reserved for competitive sports, he also dominated in, of all places, the ballroom!!

While there’s certainly a chance that Thorpe took ballroom dance in an attempt to help his footwork (football players have been known to take dance classes for that very reason. Even as long ago as the 1920s Knute Rockne had his players taking dance lessons, so it’s certainly a possibility), for whatever reason he danced, Thorpe was an excellent dancer.

And in fact, in 1912, he was the inter-collegiate ballroom dancing CHAMPION!

That same year, Thorpe won the Gold Medal in the Pentathlon and the Decathlon.

I wonder if the former victory helped in the latter?

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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