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Babe Didrikson Zaharias


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Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Babe Didrikson Zaharias started it all for women in sports. Nowadays it's not uncommon to see females successfully conquer all kinds of sports and gain widespread recognition for it. The list is endless, but here are just a few.


Babe Didrikson Zaharias

In the early 1970s we watched female tennis stars such as Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova prove to the sports world that this sport doesn't just belong to the good-ole-boys club. And this was proven further in the early 2000s, when sisters Serena and Venus Williams made it possible for more minority women to dream of a career in tennis thanks to the sisters' phenomenal success on the court and their personalities off the court. (Actually, Althea Gibson was the one who first broke ground for minority women in tennis during the 1950s.)

Then we have Wilma Rudolph who succeeded in the 1960 summer Olympics in Rome as a successful track and field athlete. Then there were ice skating female stars such as Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi, Nancy Kerrigan and Oksana Baiul.

And let's not forget our current female sports athletes who play with the Women's National Basketball Association, Women's Professional Soccer and the Ladies Professional Golf Association which was founded by the subject of this biography, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who lived from 1911 to 1956. She was largely responsible for breaking the gender barriers in golf and she was not afraid to stand up to the men in this profession who criticized everything from her boldness to her looks.

Babe Didrikson Zaharias was born in 1911 in Port Arthur, Texas to Norwegian immigrant parents. As a child, she often competed with her siblings during races home to and from school, and she also loved swimming, basketball, tennis and track and field. Before entering a golf career, she started out by playing basketball while in high school and in the 1932 Olympics, she won two gold medals and one silver medal for track and field.

In 1935, Babe Zaharias fully dedicated herself to golf and in 1938 she was denied amateur status but was allowed to participate in the Los Angeles Open, which was a men's PGA tournament and lost. During this time she met and married golfer and professional wrestler George Zaharias in 1938, and he gave her golfing lessons.

The couple then moved to Denver, Colorado and he encouraged her to apply for amateur status, which she received in 1942. She soon became a well-known female golf player and in 1947 she won the U.S. Women's Amateur Golf Championships. In addition, she became the first American woman to win the British Ladies' Amateur Golf Championship in 1947.

Once Babe Zaharias turned professional that same year, she continued to win numerous golf tournaments and in 1949, she founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Babe Didrikson Zaharias died in 1956, and she was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1974, and the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1976. Babe Didrikson Zaharias is recognized as one of the most famous women in recent sports history.

There is a secret you don't know …

Besides the factual Babe Didrikson Zaharias biography presented above there is a secret that no one will know except for you, my friend. And that secret is that Babe Didrikson Zaharias as a child decided to name all of the toes on her left foot, Fred.



 

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