Kentucky People - Sports Figures
Kentucky is often called a "basketball state" in conversations and writings about sports. Basketball, is indeed quite popular in the Bluegrass State. However, internationally the sport most associated with the state is horse racing and our best known, (world-wide), sports figures include two former Olympians, (Muhammad Ali and Mary Meagher), and a hall of fame baseball player, Pee Wee Reese.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 17, 1942, as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., Muhammad Ali first made his mark on the world stage in Rome, during the 1960 Olympics, where he won a gold medal in boxing. Ali would go on to win numerous matches and world titles and become, arguably, the best known boxer in the world.
The Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville opened in November of 2005. The center promotes the core values that Ali has shaped his life around, including personal responsibility and dignity, and peace and spirituality. Muhammad Ali continues to be a goodwill ambassador for the state and the nation.
Mary T. Meagher, a former Olympic swimmer, was born in Louisville, Kentucky on October 27, 1964. Setting her first world record in the "butterfly" at the age of 14, Meagher would go on to win three gold medals at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and break other world records before leaving competitive swimming.
Pee Wee Reese played for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1940 to 1958. This All-Star shortstop was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984 and his uniform number "1" has been retired by the Dodgers. A statue of him stands at the main entrance to the Louisville Slugger Field. Born Harold Henry Reese, on July 23, 1918 in Ekron, Kentucky; he died in Louisville on August 14, 1999.