Monday, May 18, 2009

London Gant, Sandusky High School Star Athlete

London Gant was born to Abe and Ida Sherman Gant in 1912 in South Carolina. According to an article in the May 31, 1962 Sandusky Register, London’s grandparents, Lucas and Ida Gant moved to Sandusky in 1917, after their family home was mysteriously burned one night. Mrs. Ida Gant had been born into slavery in Oconee County, South Carolina, and her age was given as 101 years old when she died in 1962 in Sandusky. Many of the men in the Gant family worked at Farrell Cheek, a company which recruited workers from the Southern U.S. states.

In 1933, London Gant graduated from Sandusky High School. A charter member of the Sandusky High School Athletic Hall of Fame, London earned twelve letters, having lettered for four years in three different sports, football, basketball, and track. Butch Wagner wrote in London Gant’s Hall of Fame Profile, which appeared in the April 14, 1990 Sandusky Register that “Gant was a powerhouse fullback in football, an all-league guard on the basketball team and a record-setting field event performer on the track team.” One of London’s teammates, John Weis, was quoted in the Register article, “London Gant was strictly power and he ran the ball from long punt formation quite a bit. When he picked up steam nobody was going to take him down unless it was around the ankles.” In the October 1929 football game between Findlay and Sandusky, the Blue Streaks won 19-7. London Gant scored all three touchdowns.
The New York Times carried an article about London Gant on December 11, 1930. It seems that an opponent of the Sandusky Blue Streaks football team doubted whether London was young enough to be eligible to play high school football. While we do not know if an X-ray was actually taken, Dr. T. Wingate Todd of Western Reserve University suggested that an X-ray measuring bone density could confirm London’s age. An article in the Elyria Chronicle Telegram on September 18, 1931 stated that London Gant of Sandusky High School was “easily one of the most feared backs on any scholastic team in the state.” London’s name appears right above the name of Jesse Owens on a web site which features Ohio high school athletic records from the Chicago National Interscholastic Championships. In 1932, London Gant threw the javelin 186’ 6.00.,” while Jesse Owens set records in 1933 for the 100 yard dash, 220 yard dash, and the long jump.

Following graduation from Sandusky High School, London Gant attended the University of Cincinnati, where he was only the second African American athlete to compete at that school. An injury cut his football career short in Cincinnati. On December 19, 1964, London Gant passed away following a battle with cancer. Butch Wagner wrote in April, 1990 about London Gant, “His memories and feats continue to live on in the archives of Sandusky High School annals.”

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