When it comes to sports and Jamaica, they go together. Just the same with sports in Jamaica and the former first family, The Manley family. Norman Washington Manley was a star athlete at Jamaica College. Later in N.W Manley political career, it was his vision of the power of sports why the decision was made to build the National Stadium which open in August 4, 1962. Interestingly enough, Douglas Manley who was Michael’s older brother ran track and field for Munro College in Jamaica. In fact, Douglas ran against Herb McKenley of Calabar High School and Leroy “Coco” Brown of Wolmer’s Boys School during a track and field championship in 1941.
Overall, Jamaica has produced some world class athletes over the years. As a result, A-Jamaica-Experience (AJE) was encourage to take a look-back over the past Seventy-five (75) years or so at the 25 Greatest Athletes From Jamaica (#12 is My Favorite). The talent of the Jamaican athletes were compared with the best athletes worldwide. To find out who were the greatest athletes from Jamaica, the method that was used was not scientific. No input was put into a super computer then wait for an output. After all, we are talking about the 25 Greatest Athletes from Jamaica and ranking them against the world’s best; across all sports which is extremely difficult. We know sports play a significant role in the lives of the people in Jamaica and Jamaican sport fans around the world. So far, the emotional challenge on this topic has gotten the best of some person’s. While some people get crazy when they talk sports, others are just passionate. Sports has always been near and dear to many peoples heart so we were up for the challenge.
We knew this topic was controversial, what we did not expect was the immediate buzz it would generate. We must admit, some blood pressure were raised. People were making phone calls to family and friends all over Jamaica, US, UK and Canada. The reactions and over-reactions made it clear, this topic was near and dear to people’s heart.
We came across the loudest voice trying to force their favorite athlete on the list. As one of the contributor to this article Barry Sanders said, “sports is big and has been extremely successful in Jamaica. And it’s important to remember those who help to put us on the map, which includes our past and present athletes.” Jamaica have had their fair share of champions in just about all sport categories. In the early days of sports, some athletes did it for the pride and glory for their family and their country. Now in the 21st Century, sports is a big business. Sports in Jamaica is more than just a past time, it’s an opportunity, it’s a life changer. Sports Illustrator Magazine wrote an article about 33 years ago, titled “Land of Sprinters and Dreamers“. Today, many athletes have turned that dream into their reality.
Sports world wide is a business and athletes realized that exceptional talents are always in demand. The unusual thing about the sport business unlike other business is that the competitiveness does not end on the field, court, track, ring etc. The competitiveness continues on the street corner, in the arena, bars, barbershops, and in the homes. Sports is a never ending conversation. As AJE set out to talk to the super fans and the fans not so super on who are and were the 25 Greatest Athletes from Jamaica?
No Scientific Measures in Ranking
We compiled several list that were submitted then cross reference the names from each list. Some of our personal favorites did not make the list. Again, because the list covers all sport over the past 75 years, there were no scientific measures. The next roadblock was the ranking. How do you rank a Jockey vs a boxer or netball player vs track and field, you can’t, there are no scientific method. So, we left the ranking to the people and some great sport minded people. Below is the list of the 25 Greatest Athletes From Jamaica (#12 is My Favorite). We have three athletes that came in at number 25 because other say, they MUST be there.
#25 Connie Francis – Jamaica Netball Player.
Connie was Captain of Jamaica Netball Team for six years. Her 17 year career has helped Jamaica to compete in many international netball tournaments. From 1985-1999 and 2003, Connie was a national player. During Connie’s playing days she played in five World Netball Championships. Francis was a hard worker throughout her career. Her playing style was aggressive as she plays goal attack. Whether Connie was playing goal defense or Goal shooter, her will to win have made her one of the greatest netball player from Jamaica. Over that period, Jamaica increased there netball ranking in the world. In 2003, Connie and the Sunshine girls won bronze in the 11th World Championships. Francis hard work alongside her teammates to put team in uncomfortable position. Netball is the number one female sport in Jamaica. The Sunshine Girls is the name of Jamaica national netball team. Connie Francis is in the top three most Test Cap. She Francis made the list of accomplish netball players world wide.
#25 Simone Edwards 6’4″ born in Kingston, Jamaica
Simone Edwards a 6′ 4″ Netball Player from Kingston Jamaica. Simone was offered a basketball scholarship to Seminole State College in the USA only if she could learn to play basketball. At that time, Simone didn’t know what basketball was, but she had what you can’t teach “height.” In hoping for a brighter future, Edwards took on the challenge to learn the game of basketball. During her first year at Seminole State College in Oklahoma, Simone was ranked in the top 10. Edwards went on to achieve All-American status. She became Regional Player of the Year and received the Most Valuable Player Award. Simone was named First Kodak All-American and the first player in Seminole State school’s history to received this award.
After Seminole State College, Edwards continued her college career at the University of Iowa which is a NCAA Division I college. Simone became co-captain playing for legendary basketball coach Vivian Stringer. After completing her college career, Simone Edwards was signed by the New York Liberty of the WNBA (Women National Basketball Association). Edwards became the First Jamaican WNBA Player. While playing in the WNBA, Simone was starring in Italy, Hungary, Israel, and Spain during the off season. Edwards helped to lead her teams in the Israeli Cup and the Spanish Copa de la Reina to championship winners.
Simone Edwards signed with the Seattle Storm in 2000. Her career with the storm filled with dominance. She was indeed the “Jamaican Hurricane.” Simone career stats with the Storm included over 600 career points and 405 career rebounds. Edwards became the All-Time Leader in Games Played and a fan favorite with her “Shimmy Shake.” Simone Edwards helped the Seattle Storm to win the WNBA Championship Title in 2004. After retiring from WNBA basketball, Simone Edwards was made captain on the Jamaica Basketball Women’s National Team. Simone helped the Jamaica Basketball Women’s National Team to win their first championship gold medal. Today Simone Edwards is an NCAA Women’s Basketball Ambassador. She will forever be in the Seattle Storm Legend Fraternity and a member of the Seattle Storm All-Decade Team.
#25 Allan “Skill” Cole – Born 14/10/1950 Footballer / Soccer.
Allan Cole regarded by many as the most gifted football player to come out of Jamaica. Allan remains the youngest Jamaican football player who played for the national team at 15 years old. Allan promising career took center stage playing for Vere Technical in 1965. During that period, Allen made his debut playing in the DaCosta Cup. That year, Cole led all scores with 38 goals. Skill Cole was a gifted football player that many Jamaicans often compared to Pele, the legendary Brazilian Footballer. Skill Cole dazzled many fans with his fancy footwork. Allan went on to played for Santos Football Club and received the “Willis Isaac’s Trophy” in Jamaica’s National League. He was idolized by many Jamaicans because of his exceptional “skill” with the football. Allan took his career to North America and played two seasons for the Atlanta Chiefs. By the 1970’s, Cole was one of the most popular sport figure in Jamaica. His popularity had risen to cult legendary status.
In 1971, Cole signed with Brazil team Nautica. A year later, he helped Nautica to the National Championship which they did not compete in since 1959. In the National Championship, Skill Cole played against some of the Brazil’s greatest players who played on Brazil’s World Cup Team in 1970 including the great Pele. By this time Cole was at the top of his game even though he is the first to admit he could have done better on the international scale. After leaving Nautica, Cole came back to Jamaica and played for Santos again and help the to win National League Title three years in a row. Skill also played professionally for the Ethiopian Airlines team for three years. They won the Ethiopian Winter Football League in 1977. In September 2010, Allen was awarded a plaque by Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA President to recognized his contribution to Jamaican football.
#24 Authur “Gentle Giant” Wint – OD, MBE – 25/05/1920 – 19/10/1992, Manchester, Jamaica – Track and Field.
During the 2012 Olympic in Britain, the “Voice Newspaper” (A Caribbean Newspaper published in the UK) described Arthur Wint in two words, “The Originator“. In 1937, Arthur Wint the 6ft 6in. athlete was named “Jamaica Boy Athlete of the Year.” Wint first major success in racing came in 1938 at the Pan Am Games in Panama at the age of 28. During that competition, Arthur won gold in the 800 m race. Arthur Wint was a Flight Lieutenant of the Royal Air Force Pilot division in WW II. He served in active combat duty. Arthur Wint left the Royal Air Force to study medicine in 1947 and was qualified to practice medicine as a doctor in 1953.
What’s amazing about athlete in these times are that they all had jobs and or in school. While Arthur Wint was winning gold and silver medals and setting world record, he was also studying to become a doctor. Arthur Wint was Jamaica’s first Olympian. Wint won gold medal in the 1948 Olympic in London. At the first Olympic in London in 1948, Wint won Jamaica’s first gold medal. At that event, fellow Jamaican Herb McKenley came in second place and a won silver medal. During the race, Arthur Wint matched the world record in the 400 m at 46.2 sec. at Wembley Stadium. Wint accepted his medal while the anthem “God Bless the Queen” was playing. Jamaica did not gain independence from Great Britain until 1962, but there was no question, he was running for Jamaica.
In 1952 in Helsinki, Wint won his second gold medal in the 4×400 relay. His team ran the 4×400 m race in world record time of 3:03.9. The amazing part of it all was that Arthur Wint track and field career was part-time. Arthur Wint was a medical student studying to become a doctor. At the same time, he had to practice various technique of track and field race to become the best. Furthermore, Wint ran at a time when most tracks were dirt or clay. Also, the training methods and equipment were not as advanced as they are today.
To honor Wint’s accomplishment, a street in Kingston was renamed, “Arthur Wint Drive”. Wint statue stand tall outside National Stadium in Kingston Jamaica. Wint was appointed as Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1973 – 1978 and ambassador to Sweden and Denmark from 1974 to 1978. He was inducted into Jamaica Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. Wint was inducted in the Black Athlete’s Hall of Fame in the United States in 1977 and the Central American and Caribbean Athletic Confederation Hall of Fame in 2003. Arthur Wint’s photo is hung along with other past contributor to Jamaica’s history at the National Stadium which officially opened August 4th, 1962.
#23 Omar Walker 1983 – Portmore, Jamaica – Jockey
Omar Walker began riding in 2006 at the age of 23. As an apprentice, Walker won his first race riding the horse Supernatural. While Omar has been described as a natural talent, he credit his success to hard work which he learn from his mother Karen. During his first year of riding, Omar won 10 races. Omar Walker won “Champion Jockey of The Year”, four straight year from 2007 – 2010. Walker joined George HoSang, Winston Griffiths and Arthur Jones as the elite group of jockeys who have won four straight champion jockey title are . Arthur Jones holds the record as Champion Jockey of The Year for a record ten-times which includes seven straight titles from 1946 – 1952. The following year 2011 when Omar was not champion jockey with the most wins, he second among Jamaican jockeys. In 2012 Walker finish third in wins but by 2013 he had the second most wins for the Champion Jockey of the Year.
So far in his career, Walker has won over 700 races at Caymanas Park. On 6 separate occasions, Omar Walker has won 5 races in one day. Walker has had 4 winners in the same day, 16 separate times. On Saturday October 20th and Wednesday October 24th, 2007, Walker rode 5 winners both days on back-to-back race days. At one point between June 25, 2008 and July 5, 2008, Omar Walker won 3 races on 4 consecutive race days. Walker has won the 2009 Caribbean Sprint Championship and the 2011 Red Stripe Mile. On Saturday April 12, 2014, Omar Walker won his first Classic race. He rode Talented Tony K to victory to win his first Classic race, the 2,000 Guineas. In April 2015, Walker won the 1,000 Guineas on Puddy Pooh. Omar won his first Derby riding Seeking My Dream.
Omar Walker expanded his riding jockey service to Canada. In Canada, he has been racing at the Downs Track. On Victoria’d Day in Canada in 2014, a day in which Canadians honor Queen Victoria’s Birthday, Walker had his best racing day. Omar, had his first triple win in Canada on Victoria Day. Since he started racing in Canada, Omar Walker was in the top 5 jockeys in earning in 2014.
#22 Winston “Fanna” Anthony Griffiths OD – Jockey
Winston Griffiths, legendary Hall of Fame horse racing career started in the mid-1970’s. Over the years, the veteran jockey has ridden more winners in Jamaica and have more than 1600 wins. Fanna was the people’s champion, Jamaicans were in love with him. Winston total wins at Caymanas Park, put him ahead of any other jockey in the history of Jamaican horse racing. His ability to read the pace of the race then have the patience before making his move; fanning his way to victory, made Winston “Fanna” Griffiths one of the greatest Jamaican Jockey of all-time. Griffiths fanning style of riding is how he got the name Fanna.
According to the sponsor of the 95th Jamaica Derby in June 13, 2015, CAL’S Manufacturing Ltd, called Winston Griffiths, “The best Classic race rider ever produced in Jamaica”. Griffiths have won 11 Jamaican Derby since 1981. His first derby win came riding Royal Dad, Caymanas Park first Triple Crown Winner. Griffiths have the honor of winning the Jamaican Horse Racing Derby three times-in-a-row on two separate occasions. On the first derby triple, Griffiths won in 1988 – 1990, he was riding Lui Chie Poo, The Viceroy and Distinctly Native respectively. Then in 2002 – 2004, Fanna won riding Simply Magic, A King Is Born and Distinctly Irish. Griffiths had the distinct honor of riding five of the 7 Triple Crown winners at Caymanas Park. He rode Royal Dad in 1981, The Viceroy in 1989, Milligram in 1992, I’m Satisfied in 2000, and Simply Magic in 2002.
Winston Griffiths was Champion Jockey 5-times, with the most win in each of those years. Griffiths won “Champion Jockey of The Year”, four straight year from 1978 – 1981 and his fifth in 1995. Only three other jockeys in Jamaica in this elite group of four straight champion jockey title are George HoSang, Omar Walker and Arthur Jones. Arthur Jones holds the record as Champion Jockey of The Year for a record ten-times which includes seven straight titles from 1946 – 1952. He has been called a giant among jockeys. In 2013, Winston won the Gladiator Trophy at Caymanas Park for his win in a seven furlong race. Winston “Fanna” Anthony Griffiths was presented with the Chairman’s Award at the RJR Sports Foundation’s National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year prestigious awards.
#21 Romelda “Shebron/Diddy” Aiken – 19/11/1988 Kingston, Jamaica. Professional Netball Player.
Romelda Aiken played a huge role in helping Jamaica’s Netball Team to win one silver medal and two bronze medals in three Major competitions. She won the World Youth Netball Championships in 2005 and 2009. Netball World Cup Championships in 2007 and 2011 and Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014. In 2008 she signed a contract to play in Australia and New Zealand’s ANZ Premier Netball League. Since going to Australia, Romelda is also known as “SheBron”. While the name came from her basketball hero, American NBA Basketball legend, Lebron James. Aiken has represented the name Shebron well. So far, Aiken’s professional career span over 100 games.To date, Romelda has won three Most Valuable Player Award which includes, two straight year in 2008 and 2009 and again in 2015. So far in her professional career, she have won two Championships, one in 2011 and the other in 2015. Her team has been to the ANZ Grand Finals in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
In 2014 while representing Jamaica’s Netball Team, the Sunshine Girls, in the Commonwealth Game in GLASGOW, Scotland, Romelda Aiken shot 44 goals on 52 attempts as the ace goal-shooter. She helped Jamaica’s Netball Team, the Sunshine Girls, to win a bronze medal. Aiken became the first player to score 4,000 goals in the ANZ Championship Games at the premier netball league in Australia and New Zealand. She has won top Category Awards at the RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman Awards Gala for 2015. She has won the “Players’ Player Award” multiple times for her Mission Queensland Firebirds Team. Her dominating play continued in 2015 as she was a major contributor in helping her team the Firebirds to thirteen straight wins and becoming the winner of the ANZ Championship.
#20 Devon Markes “Devo” Whyte (White) 29/12/1962 – Kingston Jamaica MLB (Major League Baseball) Player.
One could say Devon Whyte AKA Devon White, made the majors when he and his family first came to the US and the paperwork with immigration mis-spelled his name to White.White legally change the spelling of his name back to Whyte after his baseball career was over but most fans will always know him as Devon “Devo” White. The position Devon Whyte played in Major League Baseball was center field. Devon had a 16 years career as a baseball player. During his career Devon won 7 Gold Glove Award. This award is given annually to the player demonstrating superior fielding skills at his position. Devo played Center Field for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1991 – 1995 and won 5 Gold Glove Award for each of the 5 seasons he played . This includes back to back World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993. Overall, Devon Whyte played in 1941 games and had a life time batting average of .263. His runs batted in totaled 846, runs scored 1125, 346 stolen bases and 208 home runs. Devon Whyte was a 3x All-star (1989, 1993, 1998). Devon and his teammates won three Major League Baseball World Series Championships. The World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993 were with Toronto while the 1997 Championship was with Florida Marlins.
According to Baseball-Almanac, there have been over 18,400 Major League Baseball Players since baseball started in 1876. Of the 18,400 players, Devon White is 1 of only 40 baseball players in the history of Major League Baseball to get on 1st base, then stealing second base (a base runner successfully advances to the next base on his own), then stealing third base, then stealing home all in the same inning. Devon is one of the forty players, to achieve what seems like an impossible accomplishment with the California Angels in 1989. In 1990, Devon Whyte was a member of the dominant Toronto Blue Jays Baseball team. This team won back to back World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993. Jays Journal, payed tribute to the core players on the championship team by giving them a nickname. They used the first letter from each players last name and called them, “WAMCO”. WAMCO were made up of Devon White, Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter and John Olerud.
Devo White was the “Table Setter” (A baseball term for the players known for getting on base so the power hitters can help them to score runs) to start the attack on the team. Devo was described over his career as having an effortless glide as he tracked down ball in center field. Because of his golden glove, Whyte made a magnificent catch in the 1992 World Series. This catch and throw by Devon helped the Blue Jays to complete the second triple play in World Series History. Even though, the referee made a wrong call which the replay shows he did, that play will always be remembered in Toronto Blue Jays history. As baseball historian John Thorn says, “Fielding skill was still the most highly sought after attribute of a ball player.” Devon Whyte was that skilled player. He was the big money player who raise his performance level in the big games.
#19 Sean Jones (Dwight Andre Sean Oneal Jones) – 19/12/1962 Kingston Jamaica. American Football Player.
Sean Jones, 6ft – 7″ inches, 270 pounds NFL (National Football League) American Football player. He was drafted in the NFL by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1984. Sean played 13 years in the NFL with Green Bay Packers, Huston Oilers and the Raiders. For his career, Sean played in 201 games and had 113 sacks (knocking down the quarterback). Jones had 13 fumble recovery (A player gains control of the ball for his team) and 1 interception over his career. Sean was a crushing Defensive End bruiser, pressuring quarterbacks and making plays.
In only his third year in the NFL, Jones had his career high in sacks and 74 tackles. His total sacks for the 1986 single season ranked him fourth in the NFL. Jones had 15.5 sacks behind Hall of Fame Lawrence Taylor 20.5, Dexter Manley 18.5, and Hall of Fame Reggie White 18. Jones was selected to the Pro-Bowl in 1993, the All-Star game of football. Sean Jones earned All-Pro ranking in 1993 and 1994 when he was selected as one of the best player at his position. In 1994, Sean Jones dominant play continued as he and his Green Bay Packers teammates were Super Bowl XXXI Champion. Sean Jones had a very good career and was dominant at his position. Playing for 13 seasons in the NFL, which is by far the hardest hitting, most ferocious sport on the planet is what makes Sean Jones one of the 25 greatest athletes from Jamaica.
#18 Charles Theodore “Chili” Davis – 17/01/1960
Chili Davis as he’s called was a MLB (Major League Baseball) player in the USA. Chili was born in Kingston Jamaica and moved to Los Angeles, California at the age of ten. Chili had a professional career that lasted 19 years playing outfield and DH (Designated Hitter). During those years he played for 6 baseball team. Chili Davis started his career with the San Francisco 1981-1987, then California Angels 1988-1990, then Minnesota Twins 1991-1992, back to California Angels 1993-1996, Kansas City Royals 1997 and end his MLB career with the New York Yankee 1998-1999. For his career, Chili Davis stats includes 2,380 hits, 350 home runs, 1,372 runs batted in with a batting average of .274. Chilli appeared in 3 All-Star Games (1984, 1986, 1994) and won 3 World Series Championships (1991, 1998 & 1999). In 1982 Chili led all National League outfielders in assists and he was 3rd batting average in 1984 with a .314 average. In 1991, Chili had a dominant year for Minnesota and led the Twins in several major categories.
As a result of Chili’s great performance along with his teammates, the Twins who was last in their division the previous year, went on to win the American League Title. From the title, the Twins went on to win the 1991 Baseball World Series Championship with him hitting 2 home runs. In 1993, Chili Davis went back to the Angels and had a career year with 27 home runs and 112 runs batted in. The greatness continued into 1994 when Chili made the MLB All-Star Team. More of the same in 1995, Chili Davis hit for .318 batting average with 20 home runs and 86 runs batted-in. For 1996, Chili continued his dominance hitting for .292 batting average, 28 home-runs and 96 runs batted-in. In 1997, Chili was traded to Kansas City Royals. During this stage in Chili Davis career, his baseball bat was for hired. If a team needed help with scoring runs they traded Chili Davis as the Royals did in 1997. Davis played one year with the Royals in which he had a batting average of .279 with 90 RBI and a career-high 30 HR. In 1998 and 1999 it was the New York Yankees who was looking for more hitting and hired the hitting machine Chili Davis. Davis played with the Yankee for the final two seasons of his career.
Chili Davis helped the Yankees and himself when they won back to back World Series Rings. The New York Yankees were Major League Baseball World Series Champions in 1998 and 1999. This was Chili Davis 3rd World Series Championship to go along with his 19 year baseball career. In 1999, Chili Davis finished his career hitting .269 with 19 HR and 78 RBI. He is ranked 7th in all-time home run for switch hitters batting both right hand and left hand. Davis talent allowed him to pitch once in a game. After Chili Davis well respected professional baseball career, he was hired by the Oakland Athletics Baseball as a hitting coach from 2012-2014. As of the end of 2015, Chili Davis is a hitting Coach for the Boston Red Sox. “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional”, by Chili Davis
#17 George Joseph HoSang – 1954 – Jockey.
George HoSang started racing since the age of 15. During the early to mid-1970’s, Hosang dominated racing at Caymanas Park Race Track in Jamaica. HoSang was one of three Jamaican jockeys to be crowned Champion Jockey of The Year for four years in a row from 1972 – 1975. In 1972 HoSang had 99 wins and 64 wins in 1973. Then in 1974, HoSang holds the record for the most wins in one year with 167. His impressive wins of 167 races were achieved in the least amount of race days of only 65 days. In 1975, George had 131 wins to win his fourth straight Champion Jockey of The Year. The other two jockeys to win four straight champion jockey title was Winston ‘Fanna’ Griffiths and Arthur Jones. Arthur Jones holds the record as Champion Jockey of The Year for a record ten-times which includes seven straight titles from 1946 – 1952. Recently, Jockey Omar Walker joined that elite group of champion jockey to win the title four straight year. George Hosang went on to achieve international success racing horses in Canada and Florida. After HoSang migration to Canada in 1976, he had many victories. George riding skills earned him the title of Champion Jockey of The Year in Canada in 1979 and 1981. Mr. Hosang international success was very special to him as well as many people in Jamaica. His championship victory in so many ways gave additional credibility to other great jockeys coming out of Jamaica looking for riding opportunity.
Now, George HoSang was not just a legendary Jamaican jockey who dominated Caymanas Park Race Track but a jockey who could win anywhere. George HoSang winning record stand at more than 2,100 wins. Of all his wins, 642 wins was at Caymanas Park and the other 1500 was on the international stage in Canada and Florida. His 642 wins at Caymanas Park put him in eight place behind Winston Griffiths with over 1600 wins on the all time winners list. Mr HoSang won the Burger King Superstakes twice in 1992 and 1995. George HoSang is a Hall of Fame inductee of Thoroughbred Racing in Jamaica. HoSang became the thirtheen recipient to receive the prestigious “None Such” Award for his lifetime achievement in Jamaican Thoroughbred Horse Racing. The award is in honor of one of the greatest horse “None Such” out of Jamaica and the winner of, “Horse of the Year” in 1967. None Such was a sprinter. Jamaica Thoroughbred Horse Racing now have The George HoSang Trophy Race. This trophy celebrate and honor the great Jockey, George HoSang and his contribution to horse racing in Jamaica.
#16 Michael Anthony Holding Born 16/02/1954 – Cricket
Mike Holding was a West Indian Cricketer who was an exceptionally fast bowler. In fact, Mike was describe as one of cricket’s fastest bowler, ever. People say that umpires called him “Whispering Death” which is the title of his first book because of his bowling speed. Other described Mike as the ” Rolls-Royce of fast bowlers”. According to Barry “Barrington” Saunders who played amateur cricket and was a member of Melbourne Cricket Club with Holding; and who is also a mentor to Courtney Walsh, says, “Holding was Super Extraordinary, He was the Muhammad Ali of cricket. He was smooth”. As a member of the dominant West Indies Cricket Team of the 70’s and early 1980’s, Holding was a leading force in driving fear into opponent batsmen. During one of the West Indies tour in England in 1975, Holding took 14 wickets for 149 runs. This broke the record for West Indian bowler in a Test Match as stated, Mike bowled “exceptionally fast”. Michael Holding was know for his bowling skills, not his batting skills. But that did not stop Mike from holding the record for the most sixes in a Test career at 36 sixes which puts him at 32 on the all-time list.
The Bible of cricket, “Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack” which selects “The Five Cricketers of the Year” since 1889, selected Michael Holding in 1977 as Wisden Cricketers of the Year. In 1988 his picture was featured on Jamaica’s $2 Stamp. Michael Holding was inducted into The FICA (Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations) Hall of Fame in 1999. He was inducted into the Cricket Hall of Fame in Hartford, Connecticut. Holding exceptional career was not without injuries and caused him to retire after twelve years. For Holding’s career he played for the Jamaica, West Indies along with several international teams. His career stats includes 60 Test Match with 249 wickets on 8/92 bowling, 102 ODI (One Day International) Matches with 142 wickets on 5/26 bowling, 222 FC (First Class) Matches with 778 wickets on 8/92 bowling and 249 LA (List-A Cricket) Matches with 343 wickets on 8/21 bowing. Wisden Cricketers’ viewed Mike Holding’s over to Goeff Boycott, one of the great batsman in cricket as “The finest, fastest, most ferocious gambit of all time” in 1981. Michael Holding exceptional excellence as a cricketer, made him one of the most decorated players on the West Indies Cricket Team and he is respected on the international cricket circuit arena.
#15 Veronica Campbell-Brown – OD, Born 15/05/1982 – Track and Field.
Whether you call her Veronica Campbell-Brown, Veronica Campbell or VCB, she is the 5x winner of “Jamaica Sportswoman of the Year” Award. VCB was awarded the Austin Sealy Trophy in 2001 for most outstanding athlete of the 2001 CARIFTA Games. Ms Campbell was inducted into Barton County Community College Hall of Fame in 2005. Ms Campbell-Brown life size statue was unveiled in her Trelawny home town “Heroes Walk” by Outameni Experience heritage attraction in 2008. In 2009, VCB was appointed UNESCO Champion for Sport Ambassador and Inducted in University of Arkansas Hall of Fame. She received the Courtney Walsh Award for Excellence in 2012.
As one of the most celebrated track and field athlete out of Jamaica and around the world, VCB have had a magnificent career and it started from an early age. However, Veronica Campbell did not allow her track and field career to interfere with her school work as she was an extremely bright student. At the World Youth Games in Poland, Veronica Campbell won two gold medal while she was still in high school. Because the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Youth Championships in Athletics games was first established in 1999, Veronica Campbell became the first woman in history to win gold in the 100m race. Veronica Campbell continued the hard work by winning many titles and setting several records which includes four national junior college titles. Her titles includes indoors and outdoors wins in the 60 m, 100 m and 200 m. VCB currently holds the record at Barton County Community College in the outdoor 100 m and 200 m.
Veronica Campbell closed out the the 20th Century in style and started the 21st Century in fashion. At the 2000 Olympic Game in Sidney Australia, she became the youngest Jamaican female to win an Olympic medal. Then at the World Junior Championship game in Chile that same year, Ms Campbell-Brown became the first female to win the 100m and 200m race at the same event. Veronica graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in 2006. In 2007, Ms Campbell won three medals at the World Championships game. She won a gold and silver medals in the 100m and 200m respectively while adding a silver medal in the 4x100m relay.
VCB was given the honor of carrying the Jamaican flag at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing China. Veronica Campbell-Brown became the 2nd women in track and field history other than Barbel Wockel of Germany in 1976 and 1980 to defend her 200m title with a personal best time of 21.74 seconds. To date, Veronica Campbell-Brown have won a total of 7 Olympics medals. In track and field most prestigious 100 m race, VCB time of 10.76 seconds is ranked 9th in the top ten all time best time in track and field history . While her personal best time of 21.74 seconds in the 200 m race ranked her in the top 10th all time best time in history. According to All-Athletics VCB ranks 18 overall in women track and field ranking world wide. Veronica Campbell-Brown have won more than 45 medals in her career.
#14 Courtney Andrew Walsh OJ born 30/10/1962, Kingston Jamaica – Cricket.
Walsh a cricketer, played with the West Indies Cricket team from 1984 – 2001. Courtney was an international cricketer. He was captain of the West Indies Cricket Team for twenty-two Test Matches (The highest major cricket standard). Walsh was an outstanding fast bowler. For his career, Walsh played in 132 Test Matches and 205 ODI (One Day International) Matches, 429 FC (First Class) Matches and 440 List A (List A Cricket). As a magnificent Fast Bowler, Walsh held the record for the most Test Wicket from 2000 -2004.
Courtney Walsh was the first cricketer to reach 500 wickets in a Test Match. Walsh had a distinguish cricket career. During that period, Walsh received Cricket highest award and gained entry into the world’s most famous sports reference book. In 1987, Courtney Walsh was named one of the Wisden Cricketer of the Year. The following year in 1988, Walsh was selected as one of the Indian Cricket Cricketer of the Year. Walsh was voted Jamaica Sportsperson of the Year three years in a row from 1998-2000. In 2004, Courtney Walsh was named as one of the Top Five Greatest Jamaican Cricketer of all time by Wisden Cricinfo ESPN. To put a stamp on his sensational career, in 2010 Courtney Andrew Walsh was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
#13 Bertland Cameron – 16/11/1959 – Spanish Town, Jamaica. Track and Field.
Bertland ran track and field for Jamaica. He specialized in the 400 m event. Cameron was a member of Jamaica’s 4×400 team that won a silver medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympic in South Korea. However, his dominance in the 4000 m started from his college days at the University of Texas El Paso in 1980.
In 1982, at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Havana Cuba, Bertland won gold in the 400 m race. A month later, Cameron went on to win The Commonwealth Game in Australia. After winning the World Championship 400 m in 1983, that was Cameron’s fourth gold medal between 1981 to 1983. As a result of his success, Bert Cameron won the Jamaican Sportsperson Award three times from 1981 to 1983.
Going into the 1984 Olympic in Los Angeles was a feel good moment for Cameron. He had recently won gold medal in the 400 m with championship time of 45 Sec. Even though, Cameron was not able to compete in the Olympic final race due to injury, a legend was born from his efforts.
During the semi final race, Bert pulled up limping holding his left leg at the 120m. At that point all the other runners past him heading for the finish line. Within a split second, he realized he could continue and started picking up speed. Bertland Cameron ran a super human extraordinary comeback race and finish fourth. His fourth place semi-final finish qualified Bert to compete in the final race for medals but his injury was too severe and he had to withdraw. In 1985 and 1987, at the Central American and Pan American Games, Bert was the silver medal winner at both events. Bert Cameron’s big competitive hart made him a big man in track and field.
#12 Herb Henry McKenley OM- OD – CD 10/07/1922 – 2007 Track and Field.
During the first international meet held in Jamaica in 1941, Herb McKenley came of age when he won 5 out of 6 races. To win these races, Herb McKenley of Calabar High School had to beat his Jamaican legendary schoolboy rival Leroy “Coco” Brown of Wolmer’s High School. Brown had beaten McKenley on numerous occasions. After beating Coco Brown in the 100 m and Arthur Wint in the 200 m, McKenley got his payback and was on his way to getting his own recognition. Herb McKenley paved the way in 1942 as the first Jamaican to get an athletic scholarship to an American University at Boston College. McKenley transferred to the University of Illinois in 1945 where he earned a bachelor’s degree. It was there Herb met his mentor and Coach Leo Thomas Johnson. Coach Johnson continued the development of Herb athletic skills. In 1946 and 1947, Herb won the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Championships in the 200 m and 400 m respectively. He was AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Champion in the 400 m in 1945, 1947 and 1948.
McKenley set a world record in 1947 for the 400 m with a time of 46.3 seconds. Herb was Athlete if the Year in 1947 for Central & South America. Herb beat his 400 m world record in 1948 and set a new world record with a time of 46.0 seconds. Herb also beat his record by setting a new world record in the 400 m with a time of 45.9 seconds that same year. In the 1948 Olympic game in London, Herb McKenley won silver medal in the 400 m behind fellow Jamaican Arthur Wint. After the race, Allison Danzig with The New York Times, wrote, “The man who couldn’t be beaten, …one of the greatest 400-meter races ever run.” In 1951 at the Pan-American games, McKenley won bronze medals in the 100 m, 200 m, and the 400 m. In 1952, Herb McKenley was the only athlete ever to qualify for three Olympic sprint finals. In the Helsinki Olympic games in 1952, Herb came in second in the 100 m and the 400 m race. Then McKenley won gold in the one mile relay race and recorded a world record time in his leg of the relay running 44.6 sec. These spectacular world record time were accomplish at a time when the training methods and equipment were not as advanced as they are today and most tracks were dirt or clay.
Because of Herb McKenley’s exposure while competing in track and field in different countries, it gave him the vision to develop athletics in Jamaica. In 1950, Herb submitted his idea to JAAA (Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association) which led to the opening of organized athletic clubs around the island. Arthur Wint was once described as the “Originator” in track and field. Mr. Herb McKenley is the “Pioneer” of Jamaica’s track and field dominance world wide. As a direct result of the athletic programs he put in place in Jamaica, the island continues to reap the rewards and enjoy the glory of track and field. McKenley coached the national team from 1954 to 1973 and also served as president of JAAA. Now more than ever, college scouts from American Universities visit Jamaica every year to recruit and offer scholarships to track and field athletes.
Herb McKenley was the first coach in 1964 to enter a Jamaican High School team in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia. Today, according to Mr. Irwine Clare Sr. OD and founder of Team Jamaica Bickle, over 25 high schools out of Jamaica send about 700 boys and girls a year to the competition. Over the years, Jamaica High Schools have achieved great success at Penn Relays as a result of the programs that were put in place by Herb McKenley. As a result of his contribution to track and field, Herb McKenley have received the highest honors not only in Jamaica but on an international scale.
In 1983 he was inducted into The America’s Black Hall of Fame for sports. MeKenley was honored in 1986 and 1987 with “Shore Athletic Club Hall of Fame” and International Amateur Federation with a gold medal respectively. Herb McKenley was inducted in Jamaica Hall of Fame in 1989. In USA on April 29, 1990, Herb McKenley Day was declared. He received the Norman Washington Manley Award of Excellence in 1991. In 1992, Herb Mckenley received the silver Olympic order by the International Olympic Committee to recognized his continued interest and contribution over the past fifty years to sports, nationally and internationally. in 2006, Herb McKenley was given by the International Olympic committee a set of special Olympic rings which are presented to outstanding Olympians.
#11 Donald Quarrie CD 25/02/1951 Track and Field
In the 1970’s, Donald Quarrie was one of a few Jamaican who was keeping Jamaica in the spotlight. Quarrie was a top sprinter in track and field marquee 100 m sprint competition. During the 1970’s, Quarrie won Jamaica Sportpersons of the Year five times. Quarrie first Olympic medals came in the 1976 Montreal Olympic. Overall, Donald Quarrie competed in five Olympic Games and won 4 medals. He won 1 gold and 1 bronze medal in the 200 m, 1 silver in the 100 m and 1 silver in the 4×100 m. Before Montreal, Quarrie was already winning gold medals in major competition. In the 1970 Commonwealth Game, Donald won 3 gold medals in Edinburgh Scotland. Then again in 1971, Quarrie won another 3 gold medals in Cali Columbia and 2 gold medals in 1974 in Christchurch New Zealand. Interestingly enough, between 1970 thru 1978, it was all gold for Donald Quarrie in the Pan American and Commonwealth Games. During those competition, he won 9 gold medals.
In 1974, Donald Quarrie became the first track and field athlete in history to retain both his 100 m and 200 m title. His track and field career was not injury free. In fact at 17 years old, he made Jamaica National Team but due to injury, he was force to miss the 1968 games. In 1971 Donald ran a magnificent race that tied the 200 m world record time of that era of 19.8 sec. Again, he matched his world record time in the 200m in 1975 and in 1976 he also matched the 100m world record time back then of 9.9 sec. Quarrie’s best time overall running the 100 m is 10.07 sec and 19.87 sec in the 200 m.
During Quarrie’s career he held 1 world record in the 100 m and 3 in the 200 m. Interestingly enough, as of 2015, Usain Bolt of Jamaica, holds the World Record 9.58 (2009) and Olympic Record 9.63 (2012) in the 100m. Bolt also holds the 200m World Record 19.19 (2009). The injury continued for Quarrie in 1978 at the Commonwealth Games. At the game, Donald won the 100m race for the third time but due to injury he had to withdraw from the 200m race. As a result of Donald Quarrie greatness in track and field, many Jamaican Reggae artist sang about him, use his name to tells a story, highlighting him in their song. There is the Donald Quarrie High School in Kingston and a statue of Donald Quarrie is at the entrance of Jamaica’s National Stadium.
#10 Asafa Powell CD Spanish Town, Jamaican. 23/11/1982 – Track and Field.
Asafa Powell is a Jamaican track & field sprinter. He specialize in the 100 m marquee match. Powell is a five time winner at the IAAF World Athletes Final. Asapha was the 100 m World Record holder from 2005 – 2007 with times of 9.77 and 9.74 seconds. Currently, Asafa has ran under 10 seconds in the 100 m sprint competition more than 94 times as of 2015. He also ran under 9.90 seconds 44 times. After running eight times under 9.80 seconds, he is one of only five people in history to have done so. And in 2008, he held the record for running under 10 seconds fifteen times in one season.
9.72 seconds in the 100 m is Asafa Powell personal best time. He accomplish that goal in 2008 in Switzerland. With that time, he now holds the world record for running the fifth fastest time in track and field history in the 100 m prestigious track and field competition. So far in his career, Asafa Powell has won five gold medals, two silver and two bronze medals. Throughout Asafa’s career, he battled all types of injury and faced many obstacles. However, Asafa Powell will go down in history as one of track and field greatest sprinter of all time.
#9 Merlene Joyce Ottey – OD May 10, 1960
My favorite athlete out of Jamaica is Merlene Ottey. Ms Ottey is the poster child for hard work. They say timing is everything, unfortunately for many great athletes out of Jamaica during Merlene’s track & field era, they could not win The Jamaican Sportsperson of the Year Award because their timing crossed Ottey’s legendary path. Merlene Ottey has been described as the “Greatest female Sprinter in History.” From 1979 thru 1997, Merlene Ottey dominated track and field. She won The Jamaican Sportsperson of the Year Award for a record thirteen times. Merlene track and field career as an international sprinter span over twenty four years.
Merlene Ottey, the “Queen of Track” as she is affectionately called, has won 9 Olympic medals. She has the record with 14 World Championship medals and 46 in total of which 29 medals were received at the highest level of track and field competition. Merlene holds the World Indoor Championship track and field record for the 200m in 1993 with a time of 21.87 sec. She is the first women to run the 60m indoor under seven seconds and ran the 200m outdoor under 22 sec. for a record 18 times. Ottey ran the 100m under 11 sec for a record 65 times. Merlene Ottey extraordinary will to win was appreciated by the fans after she won the 200m gold at the 1993 Stuttgart World Championships, she was given a three-minute standing ovation. Merlene Ottey is one of only thirteen Olympians in the world, who have competed in five Olympics in the same sport and have won eight or more medals.
From 1896 -2010, there were only 91 women who competed in five Olympics and Ms. Merlene Joyce Ottey from the little island of Jamaica is one of the 91. Merlene has the best 100m and 200m time in one day of 10.90 sec and 21.77 sec respectively. She was the first woman to win an Olympic medal from the English-speaking Caribbean at the Moscow games in 1980. Merlene returned to Jamaica and was given OD (Order of Distinction) medal for her services in sports. The statue of Merlene Ottey, one of Jamaica’s most decorated female athlete is now placed at Independence Park, the National Stadium alongside other Jamaican track and field great like Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley and Donald Quarrie. As one of Jamaica’s silver medal 4x100m team, Merlene became the oldest woman to win an Olympic medal at the 2000 Sydney Games. Merlene Joyce Ottey who was born in Cold Spring Hanover, Jamaica, despite some controversy have achieved legendary track and field dominance.
#8 Christopher Henry Gayle – 21/09/1979 – Cricket
Christopher Gayle, Jamaica’s Sportsperson of the year for 2010 is one of Jamaica’s greatest cricketer of all time. As you watch Chris as he is called play cricket and you compare his statistic numbers to other great cricketer around the world, you come to realize that he is walking in the footsteps of legendary status. Mr. Gayle on field play in international competition is second to none. Cricket has been in existence since the 15 century and International matches since 1844. It’s simple amazing that Chris Gayle is one of only four players to have scored two triple centuries in Test Matches. He scored 333 against Sri Lanka in 2010 and 317 against South Africa in 2005. Gayle who has been described as a “Damaging Allrounder” was captain of the West Indies Test Cricket Team from 2007 – 2010.
As a big hitter who has set numerous world records, Chris has played for many international teams. In ODI (One Day International), competition, Chris has scored over 9100 ODI runs and credited with over 160 wickets and a five-wicket best. His scores came with 22 centuries, 47 fifties with his top score at 215 runs. This score made Chris the fourth cricketer in ODI to score double century and the first cricketer to hit double century in Cricket World Cup History. Christ Gayle was the marks batsman who terrified many bowlers. In fact in 2012, he became the first batsman in Test Cricket history to hit a six off the first ball. Throughout his career, Galye crucified bowler with record setting performance. Christopher Gayle is the only player to hit a hundred in Twenty20 Internationals, a double hundred in ODIs and hit a triple hundred in Test Matches.
#7 Lawrence George “Yagga” Rowe – Jamaican Cricket.
A Jamaican Cricketer and a member of the West Indies Cricket Team (Made up of the best players from different Caribbean Islands). Lawrence Rowe was considered one of the greatest batsmen of all time by some of the greatest cricketers. These great cricketers includes, Sir. Garfield Sobers from Barbados, Sir Viv Richards from Antigua, and Michael Holding from Jamaica and others.
Lawrence Rowe career started in an outstanding manner. He made history in his 1972 debut in front of a home crowd at Sabina Park Cricket grounds in Kingston, Jamaica. During his first Test Match (A match that can last up to five days) he scored 214 runs and 100 not out (opposing team did not get him out) which is a world record. Mr. Rowe scored 302 runs against England in 1974 along with a double century and five single century over his career. As Lawrence Rowe excelled to the top, newspaper headlines read, “Bowlers of the World beware, Lawrence Rowe has arrived.” Rowe was known to punish bowlers. He was a natural a catalyst and bowlers feared him.
On the West Indies Cricket Team, Mr. Rowe was seen as a batting hero. In fact, Lawrence Rowe, Garfield Sobers, Brian Lara from Trinidad and Tobago and Chris Gayle from Jamaica holds the record as the only four West Indies Cricketer to score a triple century in runs. Lawrence Rowe only played in 30 Test Match. He was destained for greatness but his career was cut short because of various injuries. His total runs scored were 2,047. Lawrence Rowe was described as a technically gifted player and will always be remembered as one of Jamaica’s greatest batsmen.
#6 Patrick Aloysius Ewing Sr. – 08/05/1962 Kingston, Jamaica – NBA Basketball.
He is an NBA Basketball Hall of Fame Legend. Patrick Ewing came to the USA at the age of 12 and grew to He is 7 ft tall. He attended Georgetown University for four years and graduated in 1985. Patrick Ewing was named the 16th Greatest College Player by ESPN. He was twice a Big East (College Team in East) player of the year in 1984 & 1985. Patrick was a three time First Team All American player (1983-1985). He was voted NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player 1984 along with winning the NCAA Championship. Patrick was voted National College Player of the Year 1985 and also know as the “Hoyer-Destroyer”
During the 1985 NBA Draft Patrick Ewing was selected as the 1st overall player by the New York Knicks. After his selection, that time was considered by some as the Patrick Ewing Era. He was name Rookie of the Year in his first year in the NBA. Patrick Ewing went to have a Hall of Fame NBA career. He was an 11-Time NBA All-Star. He is the Knicks all time leading scorer and finish his career with 24,815 points, 11,617 rebounds and 2,894 shots block. Patrick Ewing was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Player in NBA History. As of 2014, Patrick Ewing was ranked 18th all time scorer in the NBA. Ewing’s number 33 jersey was retired by the Knicks in 2003.
He is a two time Olympic gold medial winner (1984, 1992) and an original member of the Basketball Dream Team in the 1992 Olympic in Barcelona. Patrick Ewing is a two time inductee in the NBA Hall of Fame, once as a player and the other as a member of the Olympic Basketball Team. Patrick Ewing went on to achieve lots of awards and accolades which help to make him NBA Hall of Fame Legend.
#5 Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce OD (Order of Distinction) 12/27/1986 Kingston, Jamaica – Track and Field.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce graduated from Wolmer’s High School in Kingston, Jamaica. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was known in Jamaica’s track and field circle. She was introduced to the world in 2008 during her first Olympic appearance. During the 2008 Olympic at the age of 21, Shelly-Ann won the 100 m marquee event in track and field. She became the first Caribbean women to win Olympic Gold in the 100 m. Shelly-Ann mastered her craft as a sprinter and now she is the “Fastest Women in the World”.
After winning the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) 100 m World Championship Gold Medal in 2009-Berlin, she became the second female athlete to hold both the Olympic and World Championship at the same time since Yolanda Gail Devers of the United States. As of Year End 2015, Shelly Ann is the only female athlete in the world to hold World Championship in the 100 m in 2009-Berlin, 2013-Moscow, and 2015-Beijing for a record three times. Ms. Fraser-Pryce dominance continued as she became the only female athlete two separate times to hold both 100 m titles at the same time. This was done as Shelly-Ann held the 2008 Olympic 100 m Title and the 2009 World 100 m Title and the same for 2012 Olympic and 2013 World title.
Shelly-Ann won three gold medals in 2013 at the World Championship game in the 100 m, 200 m and 4×100 m track and field event. She became the first female sprinter to accomplish that honor. As the great one, Ms. Pocket Rocket as she is affectionately called separate herself from the group, she is head and shoulders way, way up on top from the rest. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce holds the distinction as the first female to hold world title in the 60 m, 100 m, 200 m and 4×100 m and the only female to hold these titles at the same time. Shelly-Ann holds the fourth fastest 100 m record in female track and field history behind Florence Griffith-Joyner, Carmelita Jeter and Marion Jones respectively all from the United States. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will forever be in the history books as one of the greatest female track and field sprinter of all time.
#4 Mike “The Body Snatcher” McKenzie McCollum, Kingston Jamaica – Boxing
Mike McCollum was a professional boxer born in Kingston Jamaica. During his sixteen years boxing career, Mike held three championship belts in three separate divisions. Mike held the title as WBA Light Middleweight Champion and Middleweight Champion and WBC Light Heavyweight Champion. Mike McCollum professional boxing career total 55 fights. His fighting record is 49 wins of which 36 were by knockout with 5 losses, one draw and one no contest. Mike was the first Jamaican to win a major boxing belt. McCollum was Jamaica Sportsperson of the Year seven times which includes four year in a row from 1984- 1987.
Mike “The Body snatcher” McCollum is ranked 17th in boxing history to have won Boxing Triple Crown or Three Division Champion major titles. He accomplish that goal in three different weight class and holding three major titles. What’s more impressive, The Body Snatcher skipped a division to get to his Triple Crown. Mike fought in weight class starting at 154, 160 and 175. McCallum skipped the super middleweight 168 division to become WBC Light Heavyweight Champion. Mike was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003.
Mike amateur records were 240 wins and 10 losses. This includes winning a gold medal in 1978 Commonwealth Game in Montreal and a silver medal in 1979 in the Pan-American Game in San Juan. Mike “The Body snatcher” earned that nickname because of his ability to attack the mid-section is ranked in boxing history as one of the best of all time. Mike was considered a technician because of his superb boxing skills. McCollum was one of the most avoided fighter during his career. Most champions avoided The Body Snatcher because they did not want to risk loosing their belt.
#3 O’Neil Gordon “Collie” Smith 03/05/1933 – 09/09/1959 Kingston Jamaica. Cricketer.
O’Neil Gordon “Collie” Smith has been described as a superb cricketer who thoroughly enjoyed the game. Smith cricket career was short lived. He died on his way to play a charity match. He died at the age of 26 in a car accident in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England while playing in Lancashire leagues. Incidentally, it was during that league play, Smith had a triple hundred while playing for Burnley. His close friend and fellow cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers was at the wheel, while fellow Jamaican cricketer Tom Dewdney was also in the car. Ever-so-often exceptional greatness is born, uncertainties happens and a chosen few live to witness and talk about it. O’Neil Gordon “Collie” Smith was one of lives great natural talent and one of Jamaica’s favorite son.
OG Smith was described as having an outstanding personality with a huge smile. Collie was a spin-bower who gained valuable wickets with his off-breaks. He was a great batsman who played for the West Indies Cricket Team. As a youngster, O’Neil Smith became captain of his St. Albans School team in Jamaica by the time he was 12 years old while his teammates were about 15 years old. At 15, he played for Boys Town in Kingston and got notice. OG Smith was the legendary former Boys Town and Kingston College Cricketer.
In 1949, Smith received a bat for the best cricketer on his team that won Junior Cup. In his debut First Test Match against Australia in Kingston, Collie scored 169 runs. The following year in his first regional, he had 109 against Guyana at Bourda. Collie sent down 61 overs in Guyana’s the first innings, which was the second most in an innings by a Jamaican bowler behind Alfonso Valentine’s 90.5 overs in the same innings. In 1957 in the Edgbaston Test in England, he scored 161 with 19 fours and a six and became the first batsman to score a century on their first appearance against Australia and England. Then at Trent Bridge, Smith third meeting with England, he was at bat for 7 hours and had his highest score 168 in a Test Match which helped to deny England of a victory.
During that 1957 England Tour, Collie Smith was the first batsman to reach 1,000 runs. He was magnificent on the field. Smith scored more runs than any of the West Indies big batsman like the three W’s in Walcott, Worrell and Weeks as well as Ramadhin. As a result of his great play and his entertaining style, Smith became very popular. After a sensational season in 1958, Collie Smith was Wisden Cricket Almanac “Cricketer of the Year.” Wisden wrote about Smith saying, “There is no finer sight than that of a player enjoying his cricket… his infectious enthusiasm and huge grin make him such an outstanding personality.” The sports body rated Smith alongside Garry Sobers as an all-rounder with the potential to develop into one of the very best as Sobers did.
Sir Garfield Sobers, who was undoubtedly, one of the greatest cricketers of all time, thought Collie Smith was a greater allrounder player than he was. In Smith Test debut against the Australians in Kingston in 1954-55 he was 44 and 104. His off breaks bowing brought him 48 Test wickets, including 5 for 90 at Delhi in 1958-59. Between 1955 and 1959, Smith played in 26 Test Matches and scoring 1,331 runs with four centuries.
In fact, Mr. Sobers dedicated an entire chapter titled “Collie” in his book Cricket Crusader. Sir Garfield says, “He had the heart of a giant, an unquenchable ecstasy of spirit, a joyous nature and unmatchable zest for living – and for cricket.” Mr. Sobers described Collie Smith as special and said “Collie was a great all-rounder than I.” He talked about Collie Smith at the age of 21 during the 1954-55 seasons he scored centuries in consecutive games against Australia on his First-class and Test debut respectively. Sobers described Collie Smith at the age of 24 when he scored one hundred in his first appearance against England. The game was special because Collie Smith, the brilliant batsman, was facing England’s Jim Laker in whom he idolized. During the course of the match, Smith hit a six off Jim Laker which broke the tiles on the ladies’ balcony.
Many viewed Collie Smith as an “exceptional fielder, awesome batsman.” Hugh Sherlock, the priest who wrote Jamaica’s National Anthem and started the Boys Town Cricket Club and Football Club was the gateway to Collie Smith success. O’Neil Gordon “Collie” Smith’s final statistics were 1331 runs (Avg. 31.69) took 48 wickets for 1625 runs (Avg. 33.85) in 26 Tests. Today, there is a Collie Smith Drive street in Kingston as well as a “Collie Smith Day” celebration at Boys Town in South St. Andrews. Because of his accomplishments, he became a mentor and role model to all who followed him at Boys Town. There is also a “Collie Smith Scholarship” that was created in his honor along with a “Collie Smith Challenge Trophy.” Collie Smith’s body was laid to rest in May Pen Cemetery. The “Mighty Mouse, and Wayside Preacher” as Collie Smith was affectionately called by his teammates, his memories will live on forever.
#2 John Charles Bryan Barnes – MBE – 7/11/1963 Kingston Jamaica – Football / Soccer
John Barnes one of the best player in the world most popular sport, football. John played football in Jamaica up to the high school level before moving to Watford England at the age of 12. Five years after moving to England, he was signed to play for the Watford Football Club at the age of 17. Six years later in 1987, Barnes signed with Liverpool. He was an exceptional gifted athlete. In his first year with Liverpool, they were undefeated for the first 29 games. John finished the season with 15 goals. In 2007, FourFourTwo (FFT) Magazine voted John Barnes as Liverpool’s “Best Player of the All Time.” On the FFT Magazine list of “The Best 100 Premier League Matches” in football, John Barnes played in an incredible four (4) of the “Best 100 Matches” in England best league while playing for Liverpool. Of “The Best 100 Premier League Matches”, John Barnes and Liverpool win against New Castle in 1996 was voted as the 3rd “Finest match of the Premier League’s first decade” by FFT Magazine. Barnes played at the highest level in football during the 1986 World Cup game against Argentina.
According to football great Peter Beardsley who was picking his “Perfect XI” squad for FFT Magazine. After picking John Barnes at his Left-Midfield position as “Perfect XI”, Beardsley referring to Barnes said, “The best player I ever played with, bar none.” Beardsley went on to say, “For three or four years at the end of the ’80s, John was possibly the best player in the world… but he simply wasn’t given the freedom.” Beardsley finish by saying, “He was restricted to the left wing with England…Look at the goal in the Maracana, he drifted inside that night and destroyed Brazil but he rarely had that freedom.”
John destroyed many defense using his raw power and gifted athletic ability. Over his career, Barnes had some spectacular goals. This exceptional athlete, achieved excellence, he was one of the very best footballer in the world. He was recognized by other players and football writers as one of the dominating football player during the 80’s and 90’s to ever play the sport. John won the PFA Player’s “Player of the Year” Award two straight year in 87-88 & 89-90 which is given to the best player in English Football. By winning the title game at Liverpool in 1990, John completed his best season scoring 22 league goals. That same year 87-88, he won “Footballer of the Year”, which is chosen by Football Writer’s Association. He won the Leahue Cup Award in the 1994-95 season. John Barnes was selected to represent England National Team 79 times.
He won Top-Flight First Division twice before the Premier League was formed and twice the winner of the the oldest football competition in the world, the FA (Football Association Challenger) Cup. Barnes won the FA Charity Shield in 1988, 1989 and 1990. His achievements did not come without challenges. During many games, Barnes was battling players on the field and racist remarks from some opposing fans but that did not stop Barnes from greatness. John Charles Bryan Barnes scored 165 goals for his professional career on both the Senior and National Team. He was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Barnes was voted as the 5th favorite player to play on the team in 2006 by the Liverpool fans. John Barnes capped off his career in 2007, when he was named Liverpool’s Best Player of All Time by FourFourTwo Magazine.
Usain ‘Lighting Bolt – Olympics Champion and World Record Holder.
#1 Dr. Hon. Usain St. Leo “Lightening” Bolt Born August 21, 1986 – Track and Field.
Holds two honors in Jamaica – OD, OC (Order of Jamaica, Order of Distinction). A Jamaican track and field sprinter and holds the title as the “World’s fastest man.” He holds the World Record 9.58 sec in 2009 (Actual time 9.572 sec. rounding up) which is like 23.34 miles per hour and an Olympic Record 9.63 sec. (2012) in the 100 m. According to Australian physiologist and coach Jeremy Richmond, Bolt hit top speed of 12.34 meters/second (27.61 mph). Bolt holds the 200 m World Record 19.19 sec. in 2009
Bolt ran with the relay team and help to set the world record in the 4X100 m. He is the winner of eleven (11) IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) World Championship Gold Medals. Usain was voted Jamaica Sportsperson of the Year five times, two years in a row 2008 & 2009 and then three years in a row from 2011-2013.
Usain is the first person to win Six Olympic Gold Medals in sprinting. He has won back to back or “double, double” title in the 100 m and 200 m in consecutive Olympics 2008 and 2012. Bolt, superior talent made him the first track & field Olympian to win three gold medals in each of his two Olympic appearances. His third gold medal in each Olympic, came as a member of the relay team in the 4X100 m. In a recent, ESPN 20th Anniversary poll of the Top 20 Athletes for the past 20 years (1995 – 2015), Usain Bolt was ranked 16 in the world. The Trelawny Multi-Purpose stadium in Jamaica will be renamed to Usain Bolt Sport Academy.
Dr. Hon Usain St. Leo “Lighting” Bolt, is in Jamaica’s top two icon of all time in the true meaning of the word. Robert Nest Marley is the other. Bolt is by far the greatest and the most accomplished Track and Field star in track and field marque 100 m and 200 m event. He’s the greatest sprinter in the world, the greatest Jamaican Athlete of all time. We salute Usain Bolt and his signature “lighting Bolt” pose.
In Runners Magazine, Australian physiologist and coach Jeremy Richmond observations and physical reaction times to predict the ultimate human running speed for 100 meters is 9.27 sec. Who known if that specification can ever be achieve. For now, Usain Bolt holds the World Record 9.58 sec.
Arthur Jones holds the record as Champion Jockey of The Year for a record ten-times which includes seven straight titles from 1946 – 1952.
Lloyd Lindbergh “Lindy” Delapenha the first Jamaican to play professional football in England but not the first non-white. Lindy played in the late 1940s and 1950s. Delapenha played for English Division, Portsmouth, Mansfield Town and Middlesbrough. He would later represent Jamaica in golf. He attended the prestigious boys school Munro College. ****Arthur Wharton of Ghana was the first non-white football player to play for England Clubs in 1894. As an all-rounder, he did track & field (sprint), cricket and cyclist. His father Arthur was born in Grenada.
Monica DeSouza – Table Tennis – She became the first three-time winner and makes Table Tennis the most successful sport of the 60’s with three female and one male win.
Emilio “Bimbo” Rodriquez won the Caymanas Park Jamaica Derby three times. Jamaica’s Racing Commission Hall of Fame as one of the greatest Jamaican Jockeys of all time. The legendary jockey had 1080 winners at Caymanas Park. 15 classic winners and 3 in the Derby. Bimbo inducted into the ‘Hall of Fame’ of Thoroughbred Racing in Jamaica in 2004.
George Leslie “Bunny” Grant – Boxer won the first event at the new National Stadium in 1962. Grant won the Jamaican lightweight and welterweight title. Also the Central American light welterweight Title and Latin American junior welterweight title and the British Commonwealth lightweight title.
Joy Foster – Table Tennis – Made the Guinness Book of Records as the youngest ever senior national sporting representative at age eight (8) from any country, as also the younger of the only pair of siblings to win the award.
Deon Hemmings – The first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic Gold medal 1996.
Brigitte Foster-Hylton – 2009 when World Champion at 100 metres hurdles.
Peter Jeffrey (“Jeff”) Leroy Dujon – Wisden Cricket of the Year 1989. Nineteen years career scoring almost 10,000 runs and playing in 200 First-Class matches for Jamaica and the West Indies.
Balfour Patrick Patterson – Known as one of the fastest bowlers in the international game. Patterson took seven wickets on debut. His career strike rate of 51.9 is amongst the best of all time. Plus 93 Test wickets came in 28 Test Matches.
Mr. Excell – Men Javelin Throw at 1968 Summer Paraplegic – Won gold medal
Ms. Baracatt – Men Javelin Throw at 1968 Summer Paraplegic – Won gold medal
Octavius Morgan – Swimming at 1968 Summer Paraplegic – Competed in three men’s class 4 events and achieved a best finish of fifth in the breaststroke.
Meikle – Swimming at 1968 Summer Paraplegic – Won two swimming medals, she won gold in the women’s 50 m breaststroke and silver in the 50 m freestyle.
Hall – Weightlifting at 1968 Summer Paraplegic – Won the bronze medal in the men’s lightweight lifting.
Marilyn Fay Neufville – Women’s AAA titles as a junior in the 100 yds and 150 yds in the under 15. She won the 220 yds in the under 17. In 1969, she was second at the Women’s AAA Championships behind in the 200 m.
George Ezekiel Kerr – First Jamaican athlete to have the Jamaican flag flown in recognition of winning gold medals in the 400 m and 800 m at the Central American and Caribbean Games.
Grace Jackson – Won silver medal at 1988 Summer Olympics. Bronze medal in IAAF Indoor World Championship in 1987 and silver in 1989 IAAF Indoor World Championship.
Dane ‘Spaceman’ Nelson – 3X Reigning Jamaican Champion Jockey took his riding to Winnipeg Canada in 2015. In his first five mounts he had two wins and two seconds place finish.
Donovan “Razor” Ruddock – Boxer – Ruddock got his big fight in 1991 against Mike Tyson. The fight was dubbed the fight between the two best heavyweights in the world. While the referee controversially stopped the fight, both fighters praised each other . To this day Mike Tyson saying “He punches like a f@#%& mule kick.” They had a rematch that went the full 12 rounds. Tyson knocked Ruddock down twice and won by unanimous decision.
David Weller – Track cyclist and first Jamaican to win Olympic medal in another sport other than track and field.
Winthrop Graham – He won two Olympic medals and three World Championship medals competing in the 400 m hurdles.
Una Lorraine Morris – Track and Field sprinter in 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics. in eight sprint events in total, with the best achievement of fourth place in the 200 m in 1964.