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  #1  
Old 10-21-2006, 10:11 AM
astro astro is online now
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Singer Johnny Mathis was an Olympic caliber athlete

Interesting factoid - I never would have guessed it about him.

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At George Washington High School, Johnny was not only well known for his singing abilities, he also became a star athlete on their track and field team, as a high jumper and hurdler, and was on their basketball team - earning four athletic letters. In 1954, Johnny enrolled at San Francisco State College on a scholarship, with the intention of being an English and physical education teacher. Mathis remains an important part of San Francisco State College's sports history—in 1954 he broke future basketball great Bill Russell's high jump record by jumping six feet five inches (1.96 meters). At the time only four Olympic athletes had managed to clear this height. It remains in the top 15 heights ever achieved at the college and in the state.

He was spotted by Helen Noga, owner of The Black Hawk club, at a jam session and she became his manager. In September 1955, after Noga had landed Johnny a job singing weekends at Ann Dee’s 440 Club, she ruthlessly pursued jazz producer George Avakian, who she found out was on vacation in the Bay Area. Avakian came to see Johnny sing, and sent the now famous telegram to Columbia Records: Have found phenomenal 19-year old boy who could go all the way. Send blank contracts [4]

Mathis's most difficult decision now was deciding whether to go to the Olympic tryouts, to which he had been invited, or to keep an appointment in New York to make his first recordings, which were subsequently released in 1956. With his father's advice, Mathis opted for a recording career and the rest is history. He has never completely abandoned his enthusiasm for sports and today is an avid golfer who has completed five holes-in-one, and has hosted several Johnny Mathis Golf Tournaments in the USA and the United Kingdom. Since 1985 he has been hosting a charity golf tournament in Belfast for environment-despoiling sponsored by Shell corporation, and the annual Johnny Mathis Invitational Track & Field Meet has continued at San Francisco State College since it started in 1982.
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  #2  
Old 10-21-2006, 10:19 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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That is very cool but how come there is no published biography of a guy with such an intersting life?
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  #3  
Old 10-21-2006, 10:39 AM
astro astro is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask
That is very cool but how come there is no published biography of a guy with such an interesting life?
Good question. I can't seem to find one (book type) on the web.
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  #4  
Old 10-21-2006, 04:44 PM
lissener lissener is offline
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He's also as gay as Lucy Ricardo's apron; I also think it would be a fascinating bio.
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  #5  
Old 10-21-2006, 05:13 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Just what sport is caliber? Does it have anything to do with birling?
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  #6  
Old 10-21-2006, 05:15 PM
Lamar Mundane Lamar Mundane is offline
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Quote:
Mathis remains an important part of San Francisco State College's sports history—in 1954 he broke future basketball great Bill Russell's high jump record by jumping six feet five inches (1.96 meters). At the time only four Olympic athletes had managed to clear this height. It remains in the top 15 heights ever achieved at the college and in the state.
I find this very hard to believe. Impossible, in fact. 6'5" wouldn't win a High School meet in a lot of places. I'd wager that thousands of people in California have exceeded that height, and probably hundreds of them were High Schoolers.

I'll go do some research.
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  #7  
Old 10-21-2006, 05:24 PM
interface2x interface2x is offline
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That's funny, based on the picture I saw of him throughout my entire childhood, I thought he'd be a skier.
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  #8  
Old 10-21-2006, 05:29 PM
Lamar Mundane Lamar Mundane is offline
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OK. The world record of 6' 5 5/8" was set in 1895 by M.F. Sweeney. It was raised to 6'7" in 1912. In 1936 it was up to 6'9".

The 7 foot barrier was broken in 1956.

It looks like the qualifying height for the California State HS meet was 6' 3", and there were 43 athletes who jumped 6'6" or better.

That article is full of s@#t, man!
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  #9  
Old 10-21-2006, 10:28 PM
treis treis is offline
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Do you have a link for any of that?
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  #10  
Old 10-21-2006, 10:54 PM
Lamar Mundane Lamar Mundane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treis
Do you have a link for any of that?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_jump

http://www.dyestatcal.com/rank/tr200...8StateBoys.htm
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  #11  
Old 10-22-2006, 02:05 AM
Hippy Hollow Hippy Hollow is offline
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Johnny was also born in Texas. Moved to California as a child.

Like Ellen DeGeneres, I don't see any Texas coming out of him!
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  #12  
Old 10-22-2006, 09:24 AM
astro astro is online now
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Most detail I've found so far including stuff about hsi sexuality. He is a bit mysterious, or at least is not as much of an attention whore as other artists.

I thought this part was amusing re trying to "out" the already outed.

Quote:
Mathis's own love life, however, remained a mystery. He deflected interviewers' questions about his bachelor state until 1982, when he acknowledged his homosexuality in an interview in Us magazine. He spoke of his first love at the age of sixteen and said that being gay was "a way of life that [he had] grown accustomed to."

These disclosures had little if any effect on the public's perception of him; indeed, the public hardly seemed to notice them. In 1992 a group of gay activists attempted to "out" Mathis, only to discover that his sexual orientation was already on record.
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  #13  
Old 10-22-2006, 10:25 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Mathis' former athletic prowess has been common knowledge for a very long time and was, in fact, noted on one of his album jackets back in the dark ages of vinyl.
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  #14  
Old 10-22-2006, 01:57 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Wasn't there was a British heavy metal musician who was (or almost was) a world class fencer?
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  #15  
Old 10-22-2006, 08:58 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamar Mundane
OK. The world record of 6' 5 5/8" was set in 1895 by M.F. Sweeney. It was raised to 6'7" in 1912. In 1936 it was up to 6'9".

The 7 foot barrier was broken in 1956.

It looks like the qualifying height for the California State HS meet was 6' 3", and there were 43 athletes who jumped 6'6" or better.

That article is full of s@#t, man!
While I at first was pretty skeptical, it's basically true, but just a little embellished.

Mathis was indeed a star track athlete at Geo. Washington HS in S.F. He high jumped over 6' in HS. Impressive at that time.

He was a freshman on the track team at SFSC in March of 54. I could find no newspaper stories that indicate he jumped 6' 5 or so. At that point in 1954, Russell was the big news, jumping over 6' 6" But Russell came in second at the West Coast Relays that year to Ernie Shelton, who cleared 6' 9"
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  #16  
Old 10-22-2006, 09:56 PM
Lamar Mundane Lamar Mundane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
While I at first was pretty skeptical, it's basically true, but just a little embellished.

Mathis was indeed a star track athlete at Geo. Washington HS in S.F. He high jumped over 6' in HS. Impressive at that time.

He was a freshman on the track team at SFSC in March of 54. I could find no newspaper stories that indicate he jumped 6' 5 or so. At that point in 1954, Russell was the big news, jumping over 6' 6" But Russell came in second at the West Coast Relays that year to Ernie Shelton, who cleared 6' 9"
I have no reason to doubt that he was a very good athlete. It is this part -
Quote:
At the time only four Olympic athletes had managed to clear this height. It remains in the top 15 heights ever achieved at the college and in the state.
that I have issues with.
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  #17  
Old 10-22-2006, 11:55 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamar Mundane
At the time only four Olympic athletes had managed to clear this height. It remains in the top 15 heights ever achieved at the college and in the state.

that I have issues with.
As to the first part, the Olympic record was set at 6' 7 5/16" in 1936. Walt Davis, in Helsinki in 1952, erased this with a jump of 6' 8 3/8". The best jump in the 1948 Olympics was 6' 6". There were no Olympic games in 1940/1944. So, the first part is selectively probably true.

The last parts sound untrue.
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  #18  
Old 10-26-2006, 09:38 AM
Rilchiam Rilchiam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz
Wasn't there was a British heavy metal musician who was (or almost was) a world class fencer?
Yes. Bruce Dickinson. I once saw footage on TV of him fencing, and although I don't know enough about the sport to evaluate his performance, I can say that he has a great game face.
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  #19  
Old 10-27-2006, 07:19 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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How Come Mathis DOESN'T Age?

I saw him a while back-he looks the same as he did in the 1970's-is he related to Dick Clark and The Karate Kid? its amazing-the guy looks the same!
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  #20  
Old 10-27-2006, 08:08 AM
Carl Corey Carl Corey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quartz
Wasn't there was a British heavy metal musician who was (or almost was) a world class fencer?
Quote:
Originally Posted by rilchiam
Yes. Bruce Dickinson. I once saw footage on TV of him fencing, and although I don't know enough about the sport to evaluate his performance, I can say that he has a great game face.
So does he fence with foil, epee, saber, or cowbell?
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  #21  
Old 10-27-2006, 08:31 AM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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Donald Rumsfeld captained the Princeton wrestling team and, as a young naval aviator, tried out for the 1956 Olympic team. He hurt his shoulder, so he didn't make it.

Bill Cosby, as a Navy hospital corpsman, ran track for the Navy and played football for the Marines.
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  #22  
Old 01-12-2011, 05:44 PM
danobindy danobindy is offline
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Russell-Mathis: setting the record straight

Mathis and Russell both attended high school in the Bay area but Mathis went to George Washington High School in San Francisco. Russell hails from Oakland's McClymonds High School.

Although both Mathis and Russell achieved greater fame in other endeavors, it’s true they were very good collegiate high jumpers but Mathis competed for Francisco STATE College and Russell for the University of San Francisco.

Russell was the better of the high jumping pair and would've been a threat to earn a berth on the 1956 United States Olympic Track & Field team. In May of 1956 – despite a late start to his track season – Russell tied Charlie Dumas for first place at the West Coast Relays with a jump of 6-9¼. Russell barely missed three tries at a world record 7-feet even (Walter Davis held the world record at 6-11½ ).

Russell was ranked as the world’s seventh-best high jumper in 1956 by Track & Field News. Many publications predicted Russell would be the first to clear 7-feet. That honor went to Dumas, who cleared 7-0½ at the 1956 Olympic Trials. Dumas went on to win the Olympic gold medal four months later in Melbourne.

Shortly after his West Coast Relays victory, Russell announced he would forego his hopes of Olympic glory in track & field to concentrate on basketball. He had led USF to consecutive NCAA basketball championships in 1955 and 1956 and a then-record 60 consecutive victories. Russell was already a member of the U.S.A. Olympic basketball team.

Mathis was very good high jumper, too, although probably not quite in Russell’s class. Mathis did better one of Russell's high jump records -- a stadium record at Reno, Nevada.

On May 1, 1954, in a dual meet against the University of Nevada, Russell won the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 5 inches.
From the Reno Gazette:
"USF also had a double winner in the skyscraping Bill Russell, a 6'9" basketball star at the Jesuit school, who was an easy winner in the high jump at 6' 5" and the broad jump at 21' 5".

"Russell drew a large gallery to the high jump pit as he soared to his winning height in the jumping event, beating the rest of the competition which went out at nearly a foot below the winning height.

"USF with a team of [George] Daskarolis, Jack King, Dave McCarville and Russell won the mile relay in 3:35.1."


The following year – on May 7, 1955 – San Francisco State traveled to Reno for a dual meet with Nevada. Mathis bettered Russell's stadium record by one-half inch, winning the event with a leap of 6-5½. As far as I could determine that height (6-5½) would remain a personal record (PR) for Mathis, more than four inches short of Russell’s best. However, some might consider Mathis' performance more impressive since he was more than foot shorter than Russell.


From the Nevada State Journal:
"A little fellow who doesn't reach five feet eight inches in height yesterday cleared the cross-bar at six feet five and a half inches. The high jump, which featured San Francisco State's dual track meet 83-43 win over University of Nevada here, was a new record for Mackay Stadium."

"It was a half-inch above the 6-5 altitude established last year by Bill Russell (the 6'-10" All America basketball ace of University of San Francisco), which height was the previous all-time record in more than a half century at Mackay Stadium.

"The jump, accomplished with the western roll, also broke Mathis' own San Francisco State school mark by an inch and a half. He leaps with one shoe on, one foot bare. He missed three at 6-6½ “

Last edited by danobindy; 01-12-2011 at 05:44 PM..
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