Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor was born in 1878, grew up outside of Indianapolis and received his first bicycle at the age of 12. He had a knack for the contraption and quickly taught himself some tricks. A local bike shop owner hired Taylor to perform outside of his shop. The boy executed the stunts while wearing a military uniform, which led to the nickname “Major Taylor.”
Over the following years Taylor would begin racing in Indianapolis and quickly earned a name for himself as a formidable foe on the track. Shortly after he began winning races, Taylor was banned from competing in Indianapolis because of his color. Not long after, Taylor and his mentor, Louis “Birdie” Munger relocated to Massachusetts, a more tolerant part of the country.
Major Taylor Velodrome | http://indycycloplex.com
In 1896, at the age of 18, Taylor became a professional racer. Within two years he held seven world records and was winning 70 percent of the races he entered, in spite of myriad obstacles from white opponents, which ranged from being boxed in to getting pulled off his bike and choked during a competition. By 1899 Taylor was the world champion and had earned other monikers including “The Worcester Whirlwind.”
In 1902, “The Black Cyclone” competed in the European tour and dominated the circuit. Taylor also raced in Australia and New Zealand during the peak of his career. Fans flocked to see him wherever he rode and his popularity was unparalleled. Although Taylor faced extreme racism and bigotry in the United States, he also had a lot of admirers from white America too, including President Teddy Roosevelt.
100 years before Lance Armstrong became a famed American bicycle racer in what is considered a “European” sport, another American rider amassed fame and glory on the bicycle racing tracks of the world: Marshall “Major” Taylor. The first African-American sportsman outside boxing to become internationally famous, Taylor’s life story is one of the most fascinating stories ever told about any athlete–white or black.This illustrated edition is fully updated and expanded and illustrated throughout with over 100 high-quality duotone photographs. Buy-Now!