(I love) Earlene
Brown was an American athlete notable for her careers in track and field
and roller games. Earlene's father was 'a 6-footer' and a semipro baseball
player with the Negro League in Texas. Her parents separated in 1938 and
she followed her mother who joined the second Great Migration of Southern
African-Americans to California and moved to Los Angeles. Brown began her
participation in track and field activities as a member of LAPD in 1943.
She competed and excelled in the basketball throw, which led up to the shot
put. Brown joined the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) at 21 in 1956. There,
she started weight lifting under the tutelage of Des Koch, while America's
original javelin technician Steve Seymour coached her in shot and discus.
Seeing Brown throw, Seymour was convinced she had potential as a gold
medalist and decided to send her to the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne.
Since the Browns could not afford to pay for Earlene's training and
traveling expenses, Brad Pye Jr., am influential sports editor of the Los
Angeles Sentinel and African-American community activist, led a campaign
that raised funds to support her. From 1959 on, Brown was associated with
the Tennessee State University "Tigerbelles", whose coach Ed
Temple was also the Head Coach of the U.S. Olympic Women's Track and Field
Team. Temple spent time 'getting Earlene in shape' for the 1960 Games and
Earlene then became one of Wilma Rudolph's closest friends. At the 1960
Olympic Games in Rome, Brown won the bronze medal in the women's shot put.
In the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Brown - who was short-sighted and wore
heavy glasses as a consequence, except when throwing - was "beset by
both wind and rain and lost her footing and a chance to get a toehold on
the crown". In 1965 she retired from shot put competition. The same
year she became a skater. As a blocker for the New York Bombers Roller
Derby team, she was dubbed the "Brown Bomber". In 1975, after
retiring from all athletic endeavors, she returned to her practice as
beautician. She died aged 47, on May 1, 1983 in Compton, California.