Late last year, SanJose.com noted that Olympic athlete Tommie Smith was planning on selling his gold medal in order to raise some money. Smith, an San Jose State University student who played wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, was the first person to break the 20 second barrier for the 200 meter dash, at 19.83 seconds. It was a record that would stay on the books for over four decades, until being broken in May 2010 by Tyson Gay. In history, however, Smith is probably better remembered for the Olympic medal ceremony that followed. Both he and teammate John Carlos raised clenched, gloved fists in a Black Power salute, that remains the iconic image of the 1968 Mexico City games.
Now Lee Evans, another local athlete who starred in that Olympics, wants to sell his gold medals too. Evans won gold in the 400 meter race and the 1,600 relay. With the money he earns from the sale, he hopes to build a new school in Liberia. The school costs about $400,000. He hopes the medals will fetch $250,000.
“I don’t need the medals,” says Evans, who is currently in Nigeria. “I need money to build the school.”
Evans has been tied to Africa since the 1960s, and has headed the national athletics programs in six different African countries, as well as at the University of South Alabama. In Africa, he explains, “You are truly free—not like this fake freedom America has everybody believing in.”