Jumping for the distance

On May 27, 1961, American long jump star, Ralph Boston, set the long jump record, 27 feet .5 inches, at the Modesto Relays in Modesto, Calif.

Born in 1939 in Mississippi, Boston attended Tennessee State University where he competed in the high jump and hurdles alongside his strongest event, long jump.

During his career Boston broke his own record four times, only losing it once to Soviet jumper Igor Ter-Ovanesyan in 1962.  He landed his final record breaking jump in May of 1965 at the Modesto Relays where he broke the 27 foot barrier to end his career.

It had been 25 years since Jesse Owens set the record at 26 feet 8 inches in 1936 at the summer Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. The record has since been broken by American athlete Bob Beamon at the ’68 summer games in Mexico City when he jumped 29 feet 4.5 inches. More recently the record was broken again by American Mike Powell in the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo. To this day still holds the long jump record at 29 feet 4.4 inches, almost 9 meters.

Boston competed against Soviets with a lot of pressure to beat them from Americans but off the field it was a different story. He was able to talk to them as friends. At one point he said, “Without the Khrushchevs or the Nixons or the Reagans or those people you know, let us run it and I promise you we’ll have a much better world.”

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