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Black Power Activist to Sell Gold Medal: It ‘Ruined His Life’

The picture has become iconic. Tommie Smith, standing 0n the podium after winning 200 meter gold at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, holding up his fist in a Black Power salute.

But now, Smith is reportedly trying to distance himself from the event. According to MSNBC, the former San Jose State runner has put his gold medal and red-and-white Puma spikes up for auction at the New York-based M.I.T. Memorabilia. The bid starts at $250,000, and the sale on is scheduled to close Nov. 4.

“He feels that what he did ruined his life in many ways, and he simply doesn’t want to put himself in the media spotlight,” M.I.T.’s Gary Zimet told the San Jose Mercury News. He also said Smith is selling for monetary reasons and to share the artifacts with the sports world.

Smith, who lives in Georgia, declined to comment to the Mercury News.

Following the gesture, Smith and fellow San Jose State sprinter John Carlos, who won the bronze medal, were banned from the Olympics. In his 2007 autobiography Silent Gesture, Smith described the ban and his treatment afterward as racist.

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