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Ralph Boston

Inducted: 1974, athlete

Born: May 9, 1939 - Laurel, Mississippi

Long Jump - 8.35 m

Like fellow Hall of Famer Lee Calhoun, Ralph Boston was born in Laurel, Miss., and like Calhoun he became a world record holder and Olympic champion. While attending Tennessee A&I, he competed in the high jump, sprints, and high hurdles as well as the long jump, achieving a ranking as America's fourth-best high jumper in 1959. The following year, he concentrated on the long jump with a goal of making the Olympic team. He did that -- and more. After winning the national college long jump title, he broke Jesse Owens' long-standing world mark with a 26' 11 1/4" effort, then won the gold medal with an Olympic record of 26' 7 3/4" -- only one-half inch better than "Bo" Roberson of the U.S. He was silver medalist at the 1964 Olympics and was third in 1968 to collect a set of Olympic medals. In all, he set or tied the world record six times and his last mark of 27' 5" was the one Bob Beamon broke at Mexico City. Throughout the 1960s, he had an intense rivalry with Soviet long jumper Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, who finished behind Boston at all three Olympics. Boston won six consecutive National AAU long jump championships outdoors and also had a national indoor title. He also won the AAU indoor hurdles title in 1965, placed fourth in the high jump at the 1963 Pan American Games, and was the top-ranked U.S. triple jumper in 1963. Boston retired after the 1968 Olympics and became an administrator at the University of Tennessee and also did some television commentary. He was elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985 and was one of eight current and former Olympians chosen to raise the Olympic Flag at the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Records Held
World Record: Long Jump - 8.36 m (May 29, 1965 - October 18, 1968)

1960 Olympics: Long Jump - 8.12 m (1st)
1964 Olympics: Long Jump (2nd)
1968 Olympics: Long Jump (3rd)
1965 AAU Indoors: (1st)
1963 Pan Am Games: High Jump (4th)
1960 NCAA: Long Jump - 8.21 m (1st)

undergraduate: Tennessee A&I (Nashville, Tennessee), 1960

College administration
Television commentator

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