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Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

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  • Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

    Does anybody know what Wilt's PRs were in events in which he competed? I know he was a high jumper. But I'd guess he participated in other events, too.

    Also, what was his involvement in track after his career was over? Did he sponsor a team?

    Finally, somebody told me -- or maybe I heard on the radio -- that Wilt could bench press 500 lbs. As great of an athlete as he was, that seems hard to believe. Is it by any chance true?

  • #2
    Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

    Found these tidbits from a Wilt fansite, but with no numbers...

    - Wilt, unlike other big men, was an amazing leaper. He won the Big 8 in the high jump his junior year of college.

    - In college, Wilt was undefeated in the shot put.

    - Wilt ran the Honolulu Marathon and competed in a 50 mile Canadian race -- when he was over 60 years old!

    - Wilt used to lift weights with Arnold Schwartzenegger and Wilt got his bench press up to 500 pounds.

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    • #3
      Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

      Wilt held the distinction of being the last Big 7 high jump champion in 1957, clearing 6-5 in that competition. He jumped higher (at least 6-6 at the '57 KU Relays, 2nd), but not sure of PR. He also "hop, skipped, and jumped" 45-9 to finish 3rd at KU Relays that year. Would have loved to seen that body triple jumping, wouldn't you? Heard on pretty good authority that he could throw the shot as far in practice (or maybe further) than the low to mid 50 foot throwers at KU (some guys named Al Oerter and Bill Neider), and that he ran 49.0 quarter in baggy sweats (were there any other kind back then?). By any measure, Wilt was one helluvan athlete.

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      • #4
        Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

        I don't know if anyone can authenticate this, but my windbag of a father once claimed that the last athlete to win a "major" HJ title while jumping less than his height was Wilt. I don't know what the old man thought of as "major", and furthermore I'm sure he wasn't the last.

        I agree that Wilt was the best athlete that ever came through the NBA. There are so many things Wilt did that Jordan has never and will never do.

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        • #5
          Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

          "Wilt is not a one-sport man, either. At Overbrook High School in Philly, he high jumped 6 feet, 6 inches, ran the 440 in 49.0 seconds and the 880 in 1:58.3, put the shot 53 feet, 4 inches, broad jumped 22 feet."... these numbers oome from the following website: http://www.sportingnews.com/archives/wilt/article3.html which purports to be a reprint of an article published when Wilt was a freshman at KU in 1955. I'd say be cautious about any stats regarding Wilt. He was amazing, but he was also very aware of maintaining his larger than life image and, when describing his own accomplishments, he might embellished on occasion.

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          • #6
            Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

            here are some more stats from another site: http://www.digitaljayhawk.org/Projects/ ... urney.html "Set Big Seven Indoor Freshman high jump record at 6-4 7/8... Tied for first Outdoor title at 6-3 1/2... Third both indoors and outdoors in frosh shot put competition with marks of 47-2, and 47-5 1/4... Fourth 1956 Kansas Relays hop-step-jump."

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            • #7
              Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

              http://www.hickoksports.com/biograph/chamberl.shtml says "At Kansas, he was the Big Eight Conference high jump champion three years in a row, he put the shot 56 feet, ran the 100-yard dash in 10.9 seconds, and triple jumped more than 50 feet."

              This is fun... I am wondering how accurate any of this stuff is and what the source was... as with lots of Wilt stories, it seems vague, more like oft-repeated legend than verifiable data.

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              • #8
                Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

                http://www.washburn.edu/cas/ksstudies/f ... tures.html this site has a pic of Wilt high-jumping with the declaration that he cleared hts over his body ht. Vague again, and, frankly, impossible. If he had cleared hts overhead then he would have been the world's 2nd seven foot jumper after Dumas. That would have been major news.

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                • #9
                  Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

                  This is typical the ambiguity @ Wilt's track career... Hickok Sports (cited above) claims Wilt won 3 conference high jump title in his years at KU, while a columnist for the Topeka-Capitol Journal reports that Wilt only began jumping his junior year after being impressed by Charlie Tidwell's sprinting. http://www.cjonline.com/stories/011898/spo_dean.html

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                  • #10
                    Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

                    Great stuff. I'm surprised some site does not have his official PRs. What an athlete. I think he's overlooked when best athlete of all time is considered. I'm not even sure Michael Jordan is the best basketball player of all time -- much less best athlete.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

                      Looks like the conference championship claims are a bit overstated. According to KU's own Track & Field website which lists all KU conference champs, Chamberlain won one outdoor (57) and one indoor (58) HJ conference title. No other titles in any other events or years. His winning height indoor was 6' 6 3/4".

                      http://www.kuathletics.com/track/histor ... hamps.html
                      http://www.kuathletics.com/track/histor ... hamps.html

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                      • #12
                        Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

                        I grew up in SM, saw Wilt playing Volleyball by the SM pier for years. Believe me, VB was not Wilt's best or second best sport. You have to take a lot of claims about Wilt with the proverbial grain of salt. Great athlete, but the stories are exaggerations, just like his love life.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

                          Wow, this is really cool (and, yes, I know I need to get a life, etc.)

                          This site (http://www.tedsilary.com/PLtrackjumps.htm) gives barebones results from what must have been some great high school track meets. Apparently when Wilt was in 10th grade and then again in 12th grade he won the Philly Public League high jump championships representing Overbrook HS with modest marks of 5'10" and 6'1". But note that during that time period the long jump winners were guys by the name of Ira Davis and Irv "Bo" Roberson, apparently THE Ira Davis and Bo Roberson. In 1953 Roberson won a wind-aided 100 yds in 9.7 while Davis took the 220 at 22.2. Roberson later became a 3 sport letterman at Cornell, silver medalist in the long jump in Rome behind only the great Ralph Boston, and was the first all-pro wide reciever for the Oakland Raiders... done with sports he went back to school for a doctorate in psychology. Ira Davis later became the pre-eminent American tj'er, finishing a close 4th, just out of the medals, in Rome. Probably we could have seen all three guys compete on the same field for a dollar or two... if we'd been old enough to travel to Philadelphia!

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                          • #14
                            Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

                            Although not the all around track athlete as Wilt, Bill Russell was quite a high jumper while at USF. He jumped about 6-10 and was in the competition the night Charles Dumas first broke the seven foot barrier.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Wilt Chamberlain and track and field

                              When I first saw this post go up I thought, "oh dear, what are we about to witness?". However, my worst fears haven't materialized. If this was iaaf.org or letsrun.com we would have been bombarded with references to Wilt's 20,000 claim. Congrats to all on showing magnificant restraint!
                              (btw...I like strawberries, as did Wilt, I've heard)

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