Tommie Smith to Sell Gold Medal From 1968 Protest in Mexico City

Tommie Smith, an Olympic track and field champion, is auctioning the gold medal he wore at the 1968 Mexico City Games when he and American teammate John Carlos lifted gloved fists in a racial protest.

The medal and the red Puma cleats that Smith wore during the race are being sold online by New York-based M.I.T. Memorabilia, curator Gary Zimet said. The auction for the medal and shoes opened yesterday at $250,000 and will conclude Nov. 4.

“Tommie has had these items for 42 years and he feels it is time to share them with the sports memorabilia-collecting public,” Zimet said in a telephone interview.

Smith, 66, intends to use a portion of the profits to help fund his philanthropic endeavors and is not selling the items out of financial distress, Zimet said. Smith declined to be interviewed.

Smith set a 200-meter world record in Mexico City with a time of 19.83 seconds. He and Carlos, who won the bronze medal, took the medal stand wearing black gloves, no shoes and beaded necklaces in a salute to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. As the Star-Spangled Banner played, Smith and Carlos bowed their heads and raised their gloved fists in a show of solidarity.

Smith was a backup wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1969, appearing in two games and catching one pass for 41 yards. He was inducted into the United States National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1978 and awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2008 ESPY Awards.