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The Doug Williams Center Publishes New Research to Restore Jim Thorpe as the Sole Gold Medalist for his 1912 Olympic Victories

By February 9, 2022September 13th, 20222 Comments

Case study now available for download; Bright Path Strong petition continues

February 9, 2022 – Today, The Doug Williams Center published a new case study to support Bright Path Strong’s petition to reinstate Jim Thorpe as the sole gold medalist for the pentathlon and decathlon he decisively won in the 1912 Olympics. The Restoration of Jim Thorpe’s Sole Championships and The Healing of Indigenous Soul Wounds was written by Thorpe biographers Bob Wheeler and Dr. Florence Ridlon, honorary board members of Bright Path Strong. The study is open for public access via digital download.

“A century after his Olympic triumphs and starring in, co-founding, and serving as the unanimously elected first president of what became the National Football League, Jim Thorpe is still considered to be the world’s greatest athlete,” said Wheeler and Ridlon. “He was also a leader and champion for all minorities. Jim Thorpe lived in a dark time of American injustices, inequalities, and the poverty of the Great Depression but his talent and kindness shone a bright light on everyone he encountered.”

The research provides clear data and historic context to highlight how the removal of Thorpe’s accolades was a violation of multiple policies and motivated by racism. Given the overwhelming evidence and support for Thorpe’s rightful titles, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is being urged to correct this historic injustice.

“We are extremely proud to join the league of voices speaking up for the restoration of Jim Thorpe’s proper titles. Dr. Ridlon and Mr. Wheeler have done an outstanding job making their thorough research very digestible.” said Brandon A. Logan, Executive Director of The Doug Williams Center. “Jim Thorpe deserves to be a household name, highly regarded in every place that American sports legends are mentioned.”

Bright Path Strong’s grassroots effort to gain proper recognition for Thorpe’s achievements continues with an active petition campaign, feature motion picture, and ongoing work with Ms. Anita DeFrantz of the IOC.

Nedra Darling, Prairie Band Potawatomi and co-founder of Bright Path Strong, is quoted in the study: “Correcting Jim Thorpe’s achievements in the official records would not end the systemic prejudices that pervade our institutions, but it would send a powerful message of hope and liberation to Indigenous communities in the United States and around the world, whose past and present should no longer be invisibilized.”

Download The Restoration of Jim Thorpe’s Sole Championships and The Healing of Indigenous Soul Wounds and find more information at For media inquiries, contact Raven Thissel at

About The Doug Williams Center

Founded in 2020, The Doug Williams Center exists to build an ever-growing network of solutions for diversity and inclusion in collegiate and professional sports. The Center is a learning commons and advancement space for audiences to examine the history of race and politics in American sports and build holistic perspectives on the cultural impact to provide resources for ongoing social progress. With the support of its esteemed Advisory Board and multi-disciplinary academicians, the Center offers thought leadership and practical resources to sports industry entities. A hub for academic research and development, The Doug Williams Center is an affiliate of Grambling State University.

About Bright Path Strong

Bright Path Strong is an organization whose goal is to elevate American Indian voices so they may be heard by the general population.  The stress is on stories of resilience, strength, perseverance, and hope. Our first initiative is the full reinstatement of Jim Thorpe’s Olympic honors.


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