One of the four Olympic gold medals won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games is up for sale in an online auction that runs through December 7

“Almost singlehandedly, Owens obliterated Hitler’s plans,” SCP Auctions partner Dan Imler said. “You’ve got an African-American, son of a sharecropper, grandson of slaves who overcame these incredible circumstances and delivered a performance for the ages.”

Owens won gold in the 100 and 200m, the 400 relay and the long jump. But when he returned from the Berlin Games, he struggled to provide for his family.

“When they came back, the US was just as it was when he left segregated. Even though he came back an Olympic hero, he wasn’t offered opportunities that Olympic heroes of today are offered,” said his daughter, Marlene Owens Rankin. “We lived well, a middle-class life. We didn’t want for much. But like many black men of that era, he struggled to provide for his family.”

Owens gave one of his four Olympic gold medals to dancer film star Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, another supremely talented African-American whose career was hemmed in by limited roles for black men, Mr. Imler said. Robinson befriended Owens after the athlete return from the Olympics.

“They formed a friendship and also a professional relationship. Bojangles helped Owens get work in the entertainment field,” Mr. Imler said. “Owens gave him this medal out of gratitude and as a token of their friendship.”

Owens worked for a short time as a band leader but eventually returned to his hometown of Cleveland where he worked for the parks department and eventually found his way into public speaking, his daughter said.

“The black community revered him for what he had accomplished,” she said. “Had it been an even playing field, my father and Bojangles would have been superstars.”

SCP Auctions confirmed that the medal is genuine. The whereabouts of the other three original gold medals is unknown.

“We just hope that it’s purchased by an institution where the public could have access to it, a museum or something like that,” his daughter said.

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