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Canton Greats

Famous Canton Athletes
The athletic world has seen some of the greatest athletes and coaches in history begin here in Canton. From Olympic Gold medal winners, to the Athlete of the Century, Canton is the proud home to these individuals who have stood out among their peers in their athletic achievements. 

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Famous Canton Olympic Athletes

Canton Great - Larry Snyder


Larry Snyder
Born in Canton, Ohio on August 9, 1896, Larry Snyder graduated from The Ohio State University in 1925 winning the Western Conference Medal for scholarship and Track achievements. Hired as Head Track Coach at Ohio State in 1932, he coached Jesse Owens, Glenn Davis, and Gene Albritton and led 15 athletes to Olympic medals- 10 of which were Olympic Gold. As head coach of the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he led the U.S. Track team to four grand slams, sweeping four meets with three medals each. Jesse Owens said, "He gets more out of you than you ever dreamed you the Olympic Games, he had me so fired up I couldn't miss." Snyder was head coach at Ohio State from 1932 to 1965. In 1978, Snyder was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.


Canton Great - Ron Harris


Ron Harris
Ron Harris was a three year boxing titleist in the AAU trials and in 1967 he won a Golden Gloves title. Joining the American Boxing team in 1968, Ron had dedicated each Olympic fight to a different family member. The night before the finals he called home and told his mom, "I've got one more thing to do. Mom, if I win the gold medal it’s for you". At the Olympic Games held in Mexico City, Ron won the Gold for Lightweight boxers and his USA team-mates brought home another gold medal, one silver and four bronze for boxing. 





Canton Great - Dave Wottle


Dave Wottle
Born in Canton, Ohio, on August 7, 1950, Dave graduated from Lincoln High School  in 1968. In 1970, while at Bowling Green State University, Wottle finished second in the NCAA 1 mile run and later tied the world record in the 800 meter dash in 1972. Also in 1972 he won the 1500 meter NCAA title, and won the Olympic Gold for the  800 meter dash in Munich. In 1973, he won the NCAA title in the mile run. An 8 time All American at Bowling Green State University, Wottle was honored by the university as an NCAA Post Graduate scholar. He has been Dean of Admissions at Rhodes College in Memphis since 1983 and is in the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.


Canton Great - Jim Thorpe


Jim Thorpe
Although born in Oklahoma, Jim Thorpe made his name through Pop Warner and the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania. In the 1912 Olympics, he won gold medals in both the decathlon and pentathlon. He played for the Canton Bulldogs and his team was unofficially the World Champions in 1916, 1917 and 1919. He was named the first President of the National Football League when it was organized in 1920. ABC's Wide World of Sports named him "Athlete of the Century" in 2000.



Canton Great - Phil Hubbard


Phil Hubbard
Phil Hubbard graduated from Canton McKinley in 1975. In 1976, his freshman year at the University of Michigan, he led his team to the NCAA Tournament finals. In that same year, Hubbard won an Olympic Gold Medal as Team USA went 7-0. During his sophomore year at Michigan he achieved All American honors. After graduating from Michigan, he was drafted in the first round by the Detroit Pistons. He completed his playing career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and later worked for the New York Knicks, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Washington Wizards. The University of Michigan retired his jersey in 2004.


Canton Great - Harry Steel


Harry Steel
Harry Steel was the first Ohio State wrestler to win the Olympic Gold Medal. Born in Stark County in 1899, he graduated from Canton McKinley High School in 1918. He lettered in football and wrestling at Ohio State. Leading his wrestling team to an undefeated season in 1921 and 1922, Steel served as Captain of the team and won the Western Conference Heavyweight Title in 1924. Serving as an alternate in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, Steel won the Men's Heavyweight freestyle event. Steel has been inducted in the Helm's Hall of Fame for Amateur Athletics in Los Angeles, and in the Varsity O Hall of Fame at The Ohio State University. He is now listed among the World Champions in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.


Hall of Famers

Canton Great - Alan Page


Alan Page
Born in Canton, Ohio in 1945, Alan graduated from Central Catholic High School. He attended Notre Dame University and played a major role in the 1966 National Championship run. In 1993, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He played for the Vikings and pursued a Law Degree from the University of Minnesota while earning All Pro Selections nine times. In 1998, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and is the only player in the Hall of Fame who had  helped build the building.  He received his law degree in 1978 and worked for the firm, Lindquist and Vennum in Minneapolis. In 1985 he was appointed Special Assistant to the Attorney General of Minnesota, and later served as Assistant Attorney General. In 1992, he was elected to a seat as an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and six years later Page and his wife, Diane, founded the Page Education Foundation. Page was re-elected again in 2004; his honors for service to the community are too numerous to mention. The City of Canton dedicated a street, "Alan Page Drive" to celebrate this distinguished athlete and public servant.  


Canton Great - Marion Motley


Marion Motley
Born in Leesburg, Georgia, Marion moved with his family to Canton, Ohio where he attended Canton McKinley High School and starred in football. He attended South Carolina State University and later the University of Nevada. During World War II, he played for Coach Paul Brown at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. After the war, he was drafted by Brown to play for the Cleveland Browns in 1946. During his tenure, the Browns won four league championships. In 1960, Motley was the league's leading rusher. Over the course of his career, Motley also played linebacker and in his last four seasons he was plagued with injuries. He played a year for the Steelers in 1955, and was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968. Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated called him "the  greatest player in football history". 

Canton Great - Dan Dierdorf


Dan Dierdorf
Dan was born in Canton, Ohio on June 29, 1949. He attended Glenwood High School and later the University of Michigan where he was a consensus All-American, leading his Michigan team to the Big Ten Championship in 1969. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the second round of the 1971 draft. In the NFL, he played right tackle and at times center. He was a part of an offensive line which once held a record for the least number of sacks allowed any quarterback. Dierdorf was named to the Pro Bowl 6 times. In 2000, he was entered into the College Football Hall of Fame. After retiring from Pro Football, he served as a radio broadcaster of the Cardinal's games. In 1987, he became a member of the Monday Night Football broadcasting team. Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996, he also received the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television award during the enshrinement ceremonies of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2008 awards. Deirdorf's name appears in a star in the St. Louis Walk of Fame.


Canton Great - Renee Powell


Renee Powell
Renee began golfing at the age of three at Clearview Golf Club, the only golf course designed, built, owned, and operated by an African American: her father. She entered her first tournament at twelve and won the division. After graduating from Central Catholic and serving as captain of the women's golf team at Ohio University and at the Ohio State University, she debuted as the second of only three African Americans to play on the Ladies Professional Golf Association team. She was a part of the USO tour of Vietnam in 1970 and competed in 250 professional golf tournaments winning the 1973 Kelly Springfield Open in Brisbane, Australia. She was the first woman named head golf professional in the United Kingdom and after a marvelous career taught golf in Africa and Europe. Returning to Canton, she and her family established the Clearview Legacy Foundation for education, preservation and research. Jack Nicklaus and the National Golf Foundation named the Powells the "Golf Family of the Year" in 1992. Clearview Golf Club was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Named the PGA First Lady of Golf in 2003, she also was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame. The first Sportswoman to receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from St. Andrew's University, she was named the Top Female Teaching Professional in 2010 by Golf Digest. 


Canton Great - Chris Spielman


Chris Spielman
Chris was born in Canton, Ohio on October 11, 1965. His outstanding high school career at Washington High School in Massillon led to his receiving the Dial award as national high school scholar athlete of the year and was pictured on the Wheaties box in 1983. At Ohio State he was a two time All-American and a three time All Big Ten selection. He was named MVP of the 1987 Buckeye team and won the Lombardi award. Drafted by the Detroit Lions, he played eight years and was named to the Pro-Bowl four different times. Spielman's dominating defensive play is highlighted by countless records as he led the Lions in tackling all eight years. He sustained a neck injury in 1997 while playing for the Buffalo Bills. He took time off to support his wife, Stefanie, in her battle with cancer and started the Stephanie Spielman Foundation which has funded millions to cancer research. In 1999, he returned to the NFL playing with the Cleveland Browns where an aggravated neck injury led to his retirement.  He then began a career in broadcasting: first in radio with ESPN affiliates, then as an color analyst and a studio analyst of College games for ESPN, and lastly a cohost with Chris Hooley and Kirk Herbstreit on The Big Show. He hosts a football camp for young players in Dublin, Ohio, and He  was named to the National College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.


 Other Sports Greats
Famous Canton Athletes

Canton Great - Thurman Munson


Thurman Munson
Born in Akron, Ohio, Munson  grew up in Canton and graduated from Lehman High School. A multi-sport standout, he was offered scholarships to many colleges but opted to play at Kent State University. In 1967, he joined the Cape Cod League, where he hit a .420 batting average and led his team to the league title. A year later, the Yankees drafted him and he is the only player ever named Rookie of the year and Most Valuable Player. Munson won three straight Golden Glove awards, and in over ten years with the Yankees he averaged .292 in batting. He was an All Star  seven different years, and was named the first Yankee Captain after Lou Gehrig. He led the Yankees in three World Series games with a .373 batting average and, in 1977, led the team to the World Championship. His prodigious career was tragically shortened when he died in a plane crash  in Canton.  The Yankees gave his locker to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and retired his jersey, no. 15. Honoring his legacy, The City of Canton dedicated a minor league venue, Thurman Munson Stadium, and placed his Jersey in the stadium. 


Canton Great - Michael Doss


Mike Doss
Born in Canton on March 24, 1981, Mike has the distinction of winning championships on three levels. He played football for the McKinley Bulldogs, which won back to back state titles in the 1990's. He was named Most Valuable defensive player on the 2002 Ohio State National Championship team, and Fiesta Bowl MVP in 2003. He also has a Super Bowl ring from the Super Bowl XLI Champion Indianapolis Colts. Doss continues to serve the Canton community through his Make a Difference Foundation, and  his annual football camp at Canton's Fawcett Stadium, which draws 200 students each year. He continues to return as an inspiration to his former high school team in the annual Massillon-McKinley Rivalry game. He was honored by the Canton Jaycees in 2010 with the 71st annual Distinguished Service Award. 



Canton Great-Marty MullMarty Mull
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Marty's family moved to Canton where he attended Canton McKinley High School and excelled as a competitive swimmer. Under legendary coach, C.F. Branin, Marty was a standout on Mckinley's swim teams for four years. The Bulldogs won the state championships from 1957-1960, and Marty won individual titles four times. After graduating from McKinley, Mull went on to Ohio State University where the Buckeyes won a national championship in 1962. There he won the 200 individual medley race in 1962 and 1963. He was a three time All-American in the individual medleys. In 1985, he was named to the Stark County Aquatic Association and to Ohio State's Varsity "O" Hall of Fame in 2002. His greatest impact was as a coach at Canton McKinley where he taught for over 30 years.  Marty passed away on January 3, 2011.

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Canton Greats

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