Olympic Gold Medalist Lee Evans Dead At 74

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Lee Evans died Wednesday (May 19) at the age of 74. The record-breaking track star who wore a beret in protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City suffered a stroke last week in Nigeria where he lived and coached track. 

According to a report by WFAA, Evans’ death was confirmed by USA Track and Field. His family, San Jose Mercury News reported, began a fundraiser to bring Evans back to the US after his stroke. 

Evans broke the 44-second record in the 400 meter race in Mexico City, completing the run in 43.86. His victory came after his teammates, Tommie Smith and John Carlos were dismissed from the games after they raised their fists in protest on the medals stand.

Evans said in interviews years after the games that Olympic officials warned him not to do anything similar to Smith and Carlos. Evans chose to wear a black beret symbolizing his support of the Black Panther Party and the fight for civil rights in America. 

Evans was also a prominent member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. “His legacy of contributions to sports and the struggle for social justice is indelible and enduring,” Harry Edwards, sociologist professor and author of the book The Revolt of The Black Athlete, tweeted. 

After retiring from competitive running, Evans worked with the United Nations and coached national teams in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. He was coaching high school teams in Lagos before his death. 

Photos: Getty Images

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