The gold medal that led to the famous gloved fist protest at the 1968 Olympic Games is up for auction. Former San Jose State athlete Tommie Smith, who finished first in the 200-meter sprint, is selling the medal.
The gold medal and the red Puma track shoes are Tommie Smith’s second- and third-most important pieces of memorabilia. The most important is the black glove he wore on his right hand after he won the 200-meter sprint in world record time.
At the medal ceremony in Mexico City, he clenched his gloved hand into a fist and held it high above his head as the “Star Spangled Banner” played. Smith and teammate John Carlos, with a gloved left fist raised, wanted a dramatic but simple protest against racism in the U.S.
It was dramatic, all right – they were kicked off the U.S. Olympic team and sent home. Saturday marks 42 years since the gloved fist protest.
Smith taught at Santa Monica College until five years ago; he lives in Atlanta now. His memorabilia dealer says bids for the gold medal and the track shoes start at a quarter of a million dollars. He says Smith needs the money.
The famous black glove isn’t for sale. It’s gone missing; its significance is still here.