Major Taylor

Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor

(November 26, 1878 – June 21, 1932) was an American professional cyclist. He was born and raised in  Indianapolis, where he worked in bicycle shops and began racing multiple distances in the track  and road disciplines of cycling. As a teenager, he moved to  Worcester,  Massachusetts, with his trainer and had a successful amateur career, which included breaking track records.

Taylor turned professional in 1896, at the age of 18, living in cities on the  East  Coast  and participating in multiple track events including six-day  races. He moved his focus to the sprint  event in 1897, competing in a national racing circuit, winning many races and gaining popularity with the public. Between 1898 and 1899, he set numerous  world  records in race distances ranging from the quarter-mile (0.4 km) to the two-mile (3.2 km).

Taylor won the sprint  event  at the1899  World  Track  Championships  to become the first African American to achieve the level of cycling  world  champion and the second black  athlete to win a world championship in any sport (Canadian boxer  George  Dixion, 1892). He was also a national sprint champion in 1899 and 1900. He raced in the U.S., Europe and Australasia  between 1901 and 1904, beating the world’s best riders. After a two-and-a-half year hiatus, he made a brief return in 1907, before retiring aged 32 to his home in Worcester in 1910.