Legendary runner Tom Longboat broke records and stereotypes
First Nations long distance runner died 65 years ago today
Onondaga runner Tom Longboat was one of Canada's greatest long distance runners, known around the world as "Wildfire."
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Longboat's competitive running career began in his late teens. His first race was in 1905, in Caledonia, Ont. where he placed second. Afterwards he began competitively training and soon gained worldwide attention.
He was considered a favourite at the 1908 Olympics but he collapsed short of the finish line, fuelling rumours he had been drugged.
Throughout his career, Longboat faced widespread racism and prejudice. Newspapers called him a "redskin", "obstinate" and "the original dummy". After his victory in Boston, one newspaper congratulated his trainers for "having such a docile pupil."
After the war, Longboat returned to Canada. He worked for 20 years for the City of Toronto in the street cleaning department.
He died of pneumonia on January 9, 1949 at his home on the Six Nations reserve.