March 2003


Contact: Lynne Tolman
(508) 831-0301

     Marshall W. "Major" Taylor, the 1899 world bicycling champion also known as "the Worcester Whirlwind," has been named a 2003 Sports Ethics Fellow by the Institute for International Sport. The posthumous recognition comes as part of the 13th annual National Sportsmanship Day on March 4, 2003.

     As a black man who had to fight Jim Crow prejudices just to get on the starting line, Major Taylor faced closed doors and open hostility throughout his bicycle racing career. He persevered with dignity to become "The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World," as he titled his autobiography, and the second black world champion in any sport. The Major Taylor Association plans to put up a statue of him at the Worcester Public Library.

     The first Tuesday of March each year, thousands of schools across the United States participate in National Sportsmanship Day, which promotes appreciation of the critical role of ethics, honesty, peaceful conflict resolution and fair play in athletics and society. School programs for the day include "The No Swear Zone," essay and poster contests, student roundtables, and coaches’ forums. Sports Ethics Fellows are chosen from various academic and athletic fields for exemplifying ethics and sportsmanship in their professional and personal endeavors.

     Besides Major Taylor, this year’s Sports Ethics Fellows include bicyclist Lance Armstrong, four-time winner of the Tour de France; wheelchair racer Jean Driscoll, eight-time winner of the women’s wheelchair division of the Boston Marathon; track and field star Marion Jones, three-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion; Michael Josephson, founder of the Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics; East Greenwich, R.I., fourth-grade teacher Mary Wright, founder of the "Go FOURTH" program promoting respect in the classroom; and several others. Profiles of the Sports Ethics Fellows can be found at, along with a link for a free downloadable Major Taylor curriculum guide from the Major Taylor Association.

     Upcoming events to honor Major Taylor include an African-American history lecture, April 27 in Cambridge, Mass.; the Ride to Remember, June 21 in Matteson, Ill.; the George Street Bike Challenge for Major Taylor, July 20 in Worcester, Mass.; and the Major Taylor Century, Sept. 28 in Rutland, Mass. Details are at

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