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Major Taylor

MAJOR TAYLOR was the most famous athlete on the planet.

Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor was a trailblazing African-American athlete who changed professional cycling during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Major Taylor broke barriers others are celebrated for breaking, and he did so decades earlier.

Major Taylor was born November 26, 1878 in Indianapolis. Major’s achievements in a predominantly white and racially segregated sport not only showcased his exceptional athletic abilities but also challenged racial prejudices.

Major Taylor showed a natural talent for cycling at a young age. He quickly gained attention for his speed and endurance.

In 1899, Major Taylor became the first African-American to win a major world championship in cycling, becoming world sprint champion in Montreal, Canada. This victory set the stage for his unprecedented career at a time when bicycles were the emergent technology and bicycle racing captivated the world’s attention. He truly was the most famous athlete in the world.

Major Taylor stoically faced racism and discrimination throughout his career.

Major Taylor encountered hostility from other competitors as well as the public, and he endured attacks of various kinds on and off the track. 

As Taylor became known as the greatest cyclist in the world, he advocated for racial equality and civil rights. He became a symbol of African-American achievement in sports, inspiring generations of athletes to follow in his footsteps.

Although he retired in 1910, Major Taylor’s legacy endures as a testament to his determination to remove barriers. His accomplishments and the example he set provided the basis for countless athletes and contributed immeasurably to the fight for equality. To this day, Major Taylor’s story inspires people worldwide.

Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor



Indianapolis, Indiana



Racing Debut



Cycling career


Professional Debut


World Sprint Champion


US Sprint Champion


Record mile speed

Posthumous Honors


US Bicycling Hall of Fame


Massachusetts Hall of Black Achievement


UCI Cycling Hall of Fame




IAA Jesse Owens Award

Licensing Partners

Major Taylor was once the most famous athlete on the planet. A world-record holder and civil rights champion, Major’s story, valor and legend translate powerfully to approved partners. For example:

Licensing major taylor

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