LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Two gold medals won by Jim Thorpe in the 1912 Olympic Games have been restored in the name of the late American Indian athlete, the executive board of the International Olympic Committee announced today.
Thorpe, who died in 1953 at the age of 65, won the gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon at the Stockholm Games in 1912, but never received them after it was learned he had played professional baseball prior to the Games.
The IOC executive board said it restored Thorpe's status as an amateur and will present the two medals to the late athlete's daughter. The presentation will be made by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch at a special ceremony in Los Angeles in early January.
'The name of James Thorpe will be added to the list of athletes who were crowned Olympic champions at the 1912 Games,' the IOC said in a statement. 'However, the official report for these Games will not be modified.'
At the 1912 presentation ceremonies, King Gustav V of Sweden told the Sac-Fox Indian, 'You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.'
Thorpe stared stolidly at the dignified monarch and replied, 'Thanks, King.'
Thorpe's amateur status was withdrawn by the Amateur Athletic Union in 1913 after it was learned he had played professional baseball in the Eastern Carolina League in 1909 and 1910.
Thorpe, born near Prague, Okla., in 1888, starred in football at Carlisle (Pa.) College, where he played under the legendary coach Glenn 'Pop' Warner. He scored 53 touchdowns in 44 games for Carlisle.
Thorpe played professional baseball beginning in 1914 with the New York Giants and later played for the Boston Braves and Cincinnati Reds. He then joined the fledgling professional football league with the Canton (Ohio) Bulldogs, the founding franchise of the National Football League. Thorpe served the league as a player, coach and its first president before retiring in 1929.
Thorpe and his family mounted a continuous effort to restore his medals. After he left professional sports, he dug ditches, appeared in an occasional motion picture and toured the country in an all-Indian song and dance revue.
Thorpe suffered from cancer in his final years and was destitute when he died. He is buried in an eastern Pennsylvania town named for him after his death, Jim Thorpe, Pa.