Little Known Black History Fact: Arthur Wharton

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  • Arthur Wharton was England’s first black footballer. Born in Ghana in 1865, Wharton moved to Durham, England to study around the 1880’s. He found an interest in sports, beating his competition in 100-yard sprints at Stamford Bridge, and excelling at cricket and cycling events. In 1886, he became the Amateur Athletics Association national 100 yards champion. When the footballers that called themselves “The Invincibles” saw his talents, they immediately took him as a player.

    By the 1890’s, Wharton had played with the Sheffield United, Rotherham Town, Preston North End and Stockport County clubs.

    Wharton held down his footballing career for 16 years. Unfortunately, he developed a drinking problem and died in a sanatorium in 1930. It wasn’t until 1997 that a marker was purchased for his grave by the FURD (Football Unites, Racism Divides) organization, which is the same group that was given a grant to produce a biopic of Wharton’s life.

    Just recently, a statue of Wharton was dedicated to the presidents' lounge at Fifa, which is the governing body of sports in Zurich. Wharton has been recognized by the Wemble Association of Football.
     

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