Black Gymnasts in History 2018: James Kanati Allen

James Kanati Allen was a pioneer in Men’s Gymnastics for the U.S. A Los Angeles native, James attended UCLA, where he studied phsyicas and earned an all-around bronze medal in the NCAA Championships. He then went on to be the first black male to be named to the U.S. Olympic team (in 1968). After the Olympics, he earned a PhD in physics from the University of Washington.

James passed away in December 2011 but his accomplishments in and out of the gym will always be remembered. We are proud to salute you!

Please take the time to read this profile on James from International Gymnast.


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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Gymnasts with Skills Named After Them

What a unique honor and feat when gymnasts get skills named after them! To do so, gymnasts must successfully complete a skill at a World Championships or an Olympic Games.

Four black U.S. gymnasts have skills named after them that are still included in the current FIG Code of Points. 

Betty Okino
– Uneven bars: clear underswing with 180 degree twist to back flip in stretched position
– Balance beam: triple turn on one leg

Jair Lynch
– High bar: Tkatchev with a half turn prior to the catch to a mixed el-grip and swing back up to handstand

Simone Biles
– Floor exercise: Double layout half out

Donnell Whittenburg
– Still rings: Triple back pike dismount

We are proud to salute these gymnasts who added something new to the sport while at the top of their game!


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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: NCAA All-Around Champions





Corinne and Taqiy made history by winning the women’s and men’s NCAA All-Around Championships, respectively. What a pleasure it is to recount their legacies!

I have known Corrine for some time. She has always been so gracious and, of course, what a great smile!

I always knew she was a great gymnast, and we always had such great respect for each other’s gymnastics. She has had a great career on the national team; in the NCAA as a University of Georgia Bulldog in the ’80s, and now in coaching.

Somewhere along the way Corinne found the time to go to law school, too!

Watch a video of Corinne on the floor exercise at the 1986 Olympic Festival.

Taqiy’s gymnastics and life story is very interesting; as he rose to the top of NCAA Men’s gymnastics, he maintained a commitment to his hometown community.

Taqiy comes from a long line of Oklahoma gymnastics greats. We congratulate his success and admire his continuing support of the sport through coaching.

Read more about Taqiy here:

Watch a video of Taqiy performing on the pommel horse in 2005.

Corinne Wright and Taqiy Abdullah Simmons, we salute you for our Black Gymnastics in History project!


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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Sid Oglesby


Read our profile on Sid from 2016: 

Sid Oglesby- now this is a gem. Thank you, Abie Grossfeld.

The first Black NCAA National Event Champion in 1964!! Wow.

The story does not stop there – he went on to become a highly respected public official.

Sid Oglesby, having to put up with extensive hardship, also successfully advocated to ban Syracuse University’s interscholastic competition with segregated schools in the 1960s.

Take the time to read his story:

Sid Oglesby, we are truly honored to recognize you today for our Black Gymnasts in History Project.



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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Jackie Court


Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 6.15.22 PMAs today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day, it is an honor to feature Jackie Court. When I was President of the Women’s Sports Foundation in the mid-90s, fighting for Title IX was at the center of our movement. Title IX is a law passed in 1972 requiring gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding. Settled after 7 years in 1996, Cohen vs. Brown University was a landmark case that set the stage for female athletes to have equal access to sports, college scholarships and so much more. Amy Cohen was a gymnast at Brown and who was her coach? Jackie Court!

All gymnasts know how influential a great coach is – but what Jackie Court represents is the incredible impact that access to sports for girls has for everyone.  Jackie was the voice in the early development of women’s gymnastics in Rhode Island.  She organized the first tri competitive high school meet and USAG State Meet.  Jackie was Rhode Island’s first state chairperson and held the position for 18 years. Jackie Court was the first minority coach hired at Brown University, developed the competitive gymnastics program and coached for 33 years before retiring. She has always been an active supporter of equality for women in sports. She was recognized by the NCAA Gymnastics Association for her support and actions that improved the betterment of college sports for women through Title 9.

Jackie continues to judge and her son John Court is the interim women’s head coach for the University of Arizona’s women’s gymnastics team.

Thank you Jackie Court! Today, on National Girls and Women in Sports Day, we are so proud to feature you in our Black Gymnasts in History project.


If you want to know more about Title IX and its impact, be sure to check out this video below. 

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Black Gymnasts in History 2018: Viral Sensations

It’s always fun to see gymnastics routines explode in popularity in the media when it’s not an Olympic year! Over the last few years, gymnasts have become social media sensations, most notably in the NCAA scene where athletes add much more pizazz and personality into their routines, and engaging with the audience is expected.

Check out some of the routines that have gone viral in recent years!

Lloimincia Hall (LSU), Floor Exercise, 2014

Sophina DeJesus (UCLA), Floor Exercise (2016)

Danusia Francis (UCLA), Balance Beam, 2016




Black Gymnasts in History 2018: NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Champions



While it took more research and photos were more difficult to come by- this is a very impressive list of the NCAA Men’s National Event Champions.

Today for Black Gymnasts in History we feature the individual men’s event NCAA Gymnastics Champions. Please do read more about each athlete.

2007 Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons, Oklahoma
2008 Casey Sandy, Penn State

High Bar
1978 Mel Cooley, Washington
1984 Charles Lakes, Illinois
1992 Jair Lynch, Stanford
2000 Michael Ashe, California
2001 Michael Ashe, California

Pommel Horse
1986 Curtis Holdsworth, UCLA

Parallel Bars
1993 Jair Lynch, Stanford
2004 Ramon Jackson, William & Mary

1964 Sidney Oglesby, Syracuse
1976 Sam Shaw, Cal State Fullerton
1978 Ron Galimore, LSU
1979 Leslie  “Les” Moore, Oklahoma
1980 Ron Galimore, Iowa State
1981 Ron Galimore, Iowa State
2016 Anthony McCallum, Michigan
2017 Anthony McCallum, Michigan

Floor Exercise
1977 Ron Galimore, LSU
1988 Chris Wyatt, Temple


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