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100 Moments: Ralph Boston Grabs the Gold
Monday, July 9, 2012
100 Moments: Ralph Boston Grabs the Gold

The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series opens with one of Tennessee State's greatest athletes. Ralph Boston (1958-61) is best known for his success in the long jump in the 1960s.

As a student-athlete at TSU, Boston carried on the legacy of TSU track & field.  From 1960 to 1967, Boston ranked number one in the world in the long jump.

During his career, the Laurel, Miss. native won recognition as a World Athlete of the Year and as the North American Athlete of the Year.

As a student at Tennessee State, Boston won the 1960 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title in the long jump.

Later that year, Boston gained national acclaim when he broke the last of Jesse Owens' world records in the long jump - a record that stood for 25 years. With a long jump of 26-11 ¼, Boston transcended into track stardom.

Over the next five years, Boston would go on to break the record five times. He also qualified for the Summer Olympics in Rome, where he captured the gold medal in the long jump.

Between the Olympic Games, Boston won four Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national championships in the long jump (1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964). In 1963, he held the longest triple jump mark for an American.

At the age of 29, Boston won a bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Shortly after the games, Boston retired.

But Boston's athletic accomplishments were just beginning. His corporate and civic success rivals that of his athletic glory. After retiring from athletic competition in 1968, Boston graduated from Tennessee State University. Later, he completed his master's degree from the University of Tennessee.

Boston served as a consultant to the U.S. Olympic team and as a sportscaster for ESPN before becoming a general partner of a Knoxville, Tenn., television station. Boston has also worked as the Director of Customer Relations for Ericsson, Inc.

In 1985, Boston received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award for college athletes who have gone on to become successful in other areas.

He has been enshrined into six Hall of Fames: the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame, the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame, the Helms Hall of Fame in Los Angeles, the Mississippi's Sports Hall of Fame and the Tennessee State University Athletics Hall of Fame. The TSU Wellness Center is also bears Boston's name.

Boston still regularly visits TSU, including a recent stop in the spring of 2012. Boston is just one of two TSU male athletes to win a gold medal at any Olympic competition. In 2004, TSU alum and Paralympian Ryan Fann became the second male with his victory in the 4x400m relay.

Watch the 3:00 mark of this video for highlights of Ralph Boston:


The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.

We encourage alums and supporters to nominate their favorite moments by completing this form. Fans who nominate will enter a chance to win a prize pack from Taco Bell®. 

TSU alum James Bryant contributed to this article.