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BET Weekend May 1999

May 1999

BET Weekend Home

Bands' Last Stand?

Erykah Badu



Body Language


Down Time

Editor's Page

Report 2000

More In the Zone

Recalling 1968: Raising Voices in Sports

Swinging Sisters

Not Just Kicking It

A Field of Dreams

Baseball Diamonds

Boxers Fight To Unionize


BET Weekend


Two new books shed light on some of sports’ unsung heroes in the worlds of horse racing and golf. In The Great Black Jockeys (Forum/Prima) Edward Hotaling, an Emmy-winning journalist, brings encyclopedic knowledge of the role of Black jockeys such as Isaac Murphy, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1884, 1890 and 1891.

"The biggest surprise in doing this book was finding out that African-Americans were the first professional athletes," says Hotaling. "They didn’t break into the sport; they were already there." He discovered the African-American presence in horse racing dates to the American Revolution.

Meanwhile, Calvin H. Sinnette’s Forbidden Fairways (Sleeping Bear Press) tells a story of professional golf’s Black pioneers and their lives on the fairway. The book looks at the contributions of Lee Elder, Charlie Sifford, Ann Gregory, Rhoda Fowler and George Grant, the Harvard-trained dentist who invented the golf tee.

As Hotaling says, "The challenge is to get everyone reading these stories. It’s the stories of courage, faith, determination and sometimes humor that really tell the story."
—Michael E. Ross with additional reporting by Robin M. Bennefield

BET Weekend In the Zone

Speed Racer

A man in motion stays in motion, on a quest to win one of the world’s most demanding—and dangerous—motorcycle road races

Blazing along at 150 mph on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R motorcycle is no joke. And it’s especially no laughing matter if you’re on a 38-mile course through a town with narrow, twisting roads lined with telephone poles and stone walls. But to Dwight David Mitchell, it’s a thrill. Mitchell is one of a handful of American motorcyclists brave enough to take on the Irish Sea’s Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT), one of the world’s most challenging road-racing courses. He is only the second African-American to take the challenge since 1907. Last June, he finished 60th out of 138 riders, and he plans to hit the road again later this month, preparing to ride in the 1999 TT.

"To get accepted to participate, qualify and complete the TT is an accomplishment," says Mitchell, 37, of Piscataway, N.J. "I felt a sense of pride." He also felt butterflies. "One mistake on this course and you could end up kissing a wall." Mitchell, who has been racing for three years, won the American Motorcycle Association championship in 1997 and has participated in the Race of Champions in Daytona, Fla. As a child, he tried to ride his bikes and mopeds like stunt rider Evel Knievel, earning the nickname Awful Knawful from his father. He’s been a daredevil ever since.

Fans can follow Mitchell’s course on the Internet as he competes in several races, including July’s Suzuka eight-hour endurance race in Japan. "Every year, I try something new and different," says Mitchell, who has visited more than 60 countries, is certified in scuba and sky diving, and holds a New Jersey state title in fencing. "I want to experience everything that is going on."