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From Olympic star sprinter to street sweeper, meet Jackie’s forgotten brother Mack Robinson

You know Jackie Robinson, the baseball great. You might have however missed the formidable story of his older brother Matthew Mackenzie Robinson, affectionately called Mack Robinson.

Born July 18, 1912, Mack set multiple college track and field records competing for Pasadena Junior College. Even more stellar was that Mack qualified for the American Olympic team as a student from Pasadena Junior College

And in the 200 meters dash at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, he finished only four-tenths of a second behind the great Jesse Owens to win the silver medal.

He returned to Pasadena and went on to set several junior college track and field records in the 100 sprint (9.6 seconds), 220 (20.9) and broad jump (25 feet, 5.5 inches), according to records. His brother Jackie later broke his long jump record.

And the difference between being the forgotten brother of Jackie Robinson and the heroic sprinter who defied the Nazis, in Mack Robinson’s mind, came down to a ratty old pair of shoes. Being exceedingly poor, Mack couldn’t afford a new pair of shoes leading up to the Olympics, meaning he wore the same slowly deteriorating pair in his race with Owens that he had worn for years. He still managed to, along with Owens, break the previous world record but finished four-tenths of a second later, earning a silver medal.

Life for the star athlete in track and field was however far from rosy. Being an Olympic medalist and a college graduate meant little being in black skin so Mack became a city street sweeper to earn his keep in Pasadena.

 Robinson died of complications from diabeteskidney failure, and pneumonia, on March 12, 2000, at a hospital in Pasadena, California; he was 85.

Source: Wikipedia

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