Who Is Major Taylor

Who Is Major Taylor

Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor was born November 26, 1878, in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the early years of his life, Taylor was raised without much money. His father, a farmer and Civil War veteran, worked as carriage driver for a wealthy family.

Taylor often joined his dad at work and became close to his father’s employers, especially their son, who was similar in age. Eventually, Taylor moved in with the family, a radical change that gave the young boy a more stable home situation with opportunities for a better education.

Taylor was essentially treated as one of the family’s own, and one of their early gifts to him was a new bike. Taylor took to it immediately, teaching himself bike tricks that he showed off to his friends.

When Taylor’s antics caught the attention of a local bike shop owner, he was hired to exhibit his tricks outside the shop to attract more customers. Often, he donned a military uniform, which earned him the nickname “Major” from the shop’s clientele. The nickname remained with him for the rest of his life.

With the encouragement of the bike shop owner, Taylor entered his first bike race when he was in his early teens, a 10-mile event that he won easily. By the age of 18, Taylor had relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts, and started racing professionally. In his first competition, an exhausting six-day ride at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Taylor finished eighth.

From there, he pedaled into history. By 1898, Taylor had captured seven world records. A year later, he was crowned national and international champion, making him just the second black world champion athlete, after bantamweight boxer George Dixon. He collected medals and prize money in races around the world, including Australia, Europe and all over North America.

In one six-week period in 1899, Taylor established seven world records.[3] These included the .25 miles (0.40 km), .33 miles (0.53 km), .5 miles (0.80 km), .66 miles (1.06 km), .75 miles (1.21 km), 1 mile (1.6 km) and the 2 miles (3.2 km). He did the mile from a standing start in 1:41, a record that stood for 28 years.[9]

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Citation Information
Article Title
Major Taylor Biography
Website Name
The Biography.com website
Access Date
November 4, 2015
A&E Television Networks