The world-renowned American track-and-field athlete Carl Lewis was born on July 1, 1961, in Alabama. He won nine gold medals at the Olympics during the 1980s and ’90s.
As a child, Carl enjoyed a middle-class upbringing in Willingboro, New Jersey, where he took part in plays, musicals, and cello, piano, and dance classes with his mother.
The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, which meant that Lewis did not compete. Four years later, in a massive comeback, Lewis dominated the Games in Los Angeles, where he took his first gold medal in the 100-meter sprint with a time of 9.99 seconds.
He controversially won his second gold medal in the long jump, where he unpopularly skipped the last four attempts since he didn’t want to risk injury after jumping 28 feet and one-quarter inch on his first attempt, a distance that nobody was able to beat. His third and fourth gold medals at these games came from the 200-meter sprint, where he set the Olympic record and the 100-meter relay.
Carl Lewis dominated the athletic scene for the next few years, winning medal after medal and leaving his competitors literally in the dust; however, his public popularity started to decrease. He was perceived as arrogant and often showed up late to press conferences and meetings, which earned him the unfavorable nickname of “King Carl.”
As his career was starting to wind down in 1992, he was able to win the favor of the public and received a standing ovation at the 1992 trials, when he qualified for yet another Olympic Games. At the Berlin Grand Prix on August 26, 1997, Lewis’ long career as a competitive athlete ended after he took part in his final 4×100 relay.