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  • 01 دی 1402

George Washington: The Father of the Country

There may be no greater American than George Washington. Washington became the first United States President in 1789 with his unanimous victory in the first American election. He was also unanimously elected to a second term in 1793, the only president ever to garner 100 percent of the electoral votes. Washington was also the Commander-in-Chief of the First Continental Army that fought the British when the country was not yet established.

His epic "Crossing of the Delaware" river to recover New York City is still considered one of the greatest military moves in the history of warfare. At the time of the crossing, the British had taken Boston and New York. The Continental Army was on the run and disorganized, but Washington had a plan. He decided to take his troops across the Delaware River in the middle of winter. This was a move that many military minds thought impossible, but not Washington. The Americans were able to take New Jersey, and change the course of the war.

Another landmark moment for Washington was the winter at Valley Forge. In 1777, Washington led an army of more than 11,000 troops into Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, where the army suffered through a cold winter that claimed the lives of 3,000 men. When the spring arrived, instead of a demoralized, beaten group of soldiers, the army emerged battle ready, and able to continue the fight against the English in New York. The army was able to survive the fierce winter because of the training, and preparedness of Washington's officers. Washington earned the nickname, "The Father of His Country," because of his military intelligence that led to the birth of the nation.

  • 01 دی 1402

HENRY FORD: THE FOUNDER OF FORD MOTOR COMPANY

Henry Ford was an American inventor who is credited with inventing the automobile assembly line. German automaker, Karl Benz, is credited with inventing the first motor vehicle in the late 1880s, but Ford was the man who made it possible for everyday citizens to own one. Before Ford came up with his assembly line process, cars were built one at a time by hand, which was a very costly and inefficient method of production. Ford's assembly line revolutionized the way cars were built, and his methods are still in use today.

In 1886, Benz patented his Motorwagen, which was a four-wheel, two-passenger, self-powered motor coach that was designed to replace the horse and carriage. These vehicles were expertly crafted, but were available to only the wealthiest people of the time. Thanks to Ford, that all changed in 1906. His Ford Motor Company, the first automobile company to use assembly line techniques to build cars. transformed the automobile from an expensive curiosity to a practical tool that could be used to transport people and goods easily and efficiently. His first mass-produced product was the Model T. It remains one of the most sold vehicles ever, and was the first to reach 15 million sales.

Ford's impact on the 20th Century cannot be overstated. At one time it was estimated that nine out of 10 vehicles on American roads were Fords. His cars spurred the American economy like no other single factor. The country's roadways were built in response to the great number of vehicles Ford and subsequent American automakers produced. Additionally, Ford's vehicles created a network of support industries such as parts, repair, and maintenance services. It also caused a revolution in how goods were transported in the country. Henry Ford was a true American icon.

  • 01 دی 1402

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most famous Americans ever. He was a pastor, and a humanitarian, but is known mostly for being a civil rights activist. King was the leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 60s. His use of non-violent protest to affect social change was based on his Christian beliefs. King was born Michael King, but his father changed his name in honor of the German reformer, Martin Luther.

King lived during the most divisive era in American history. The white and the southern culture in the United States wanted nothing to do with social change during the 60s. Segregation laws were in place that prohibited black Americans from eating at the same restaurants as whites, or to ride in the same section on public buses with white Americans. King led the famous 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott in reaction to Rosa Park's refusal to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger as was required by law in Montgomery, Alabama at the time.

King started his activism while serving as a Baptist minister for the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. He believed strongly in the Christian belief that loving thy neighbor as yourself, which was a philosophy he used throughout his civil rights years. He was also a great speaker. His "I Have a Dream" speech is regarded as one of the most famous oratory in American history. In it, he speaks of how his dream is for white and black Americans to walk together hand in hand as brothers. The speech also declared how it was his dream for all Americans to be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

On October 14, 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his involvement in combating racial inequality in the United States. He was assassinated in April, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 39.

  • 01 دی 1402

BILL GATES: THE MAN BEHIND MICROSOFT

Bill Gates is an American inventor, computer programmer, philanthropist, and businessman, who was born in Seattle, Washington. He is reportedly worth nearly $80 billion, making him one of the wealthiest people in the country. He founded, and was head of Microsoft Corporation for years, and is still on the board for the computer software giant.

Gates was born to an upper-middle class family. His father was an attorney; his mother was a banker, who worked for the United Way for many years. He is credited for being the father of the modern computer, and for almost single-handedly starting the personal computer revolution. He studied at Harvard University, but did not graduate because of his desire to develop new software.

As a 13-year-old student at the Lakeside School, which was an exclusive college preparatory school, Gates was introduced to computer programming. That year he developed a program that allowed users to play tic-tac-toe against the computer. Gates was reportedly fascinated by the computer's ability to reproduce software code. In 1975, Gates approached a company called Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS). He convinced the owner that he had written a program that would work with his platform. The owner of the company bought into Gates innovations, and the two men reached an agreement to develop software for MITS. The Microsoft Company was born.

Gates went on to develop the Windows operating system with then partner IBM Corporation. The two companies had differences though, and their partnership ended quickly. Gates left Microsoft in 2000, but remains on its board of directors. He remained active with the company for several years before stepping down in February 2014, becoming Technical Advisor for the firm.

  • 02 دی 1402

MICHAEL JORDAN: A FAMOUS BASKETBALL STAR

Henry Ford was an American inventor who is credited with inventing the automobile assembly line. German automaker, Karl Benz, is credited with inventing the first motor vehicle in the late 1880s, but Ford was the man who made it possible for everyday citizens to own one. Before Ford came up with his assembly line process, cars were built one at a time by hand, which was a very costly and inefficient method of production. Ford's assembly line revolutionized the way cars were built, and his methods are still in use today.

In 1886, Benz patented his Motorwagen, which was a four-wheel, two-passenger, self-powered motor coach that was designed to replace the horse and carriage. These vehicles were expertly crafted, but were available to only the wealthiest people of the time. Thanks to Ford, that all changed in 1906. His Ford Motor Company, the first automobile company to use assembly line techniques to build cars. transformed the automobile from an expensive curiosity to a practical tool that could be used to transport people and goods easily and efficiently. His first mass-produced product was the Model T. It remains one of the most sold vehicles ever, and was the first to reach 15 million sales.

Ford's impact on the 20th Century cannot be overstated. At one time it was estimated that nine out of 10 vehicles on American roads were Fords. His cars spurred the American economy like no other single factor. The country's roadways were built in response to the great number of vehicles Ford and subsequent American automakers produced. Additionally, Ford's vehicles created a network of support industries such as parts, repair, and maintenance services. It also caused a revolution in how goods were transported in the country. Henry Ford was a true American icon.

Many American basketball fans would argue that Michael Jordan is by far the greatest player ever to play in the National Basketball Association. The professional basketball league has existed since 1947, and there have been many individual players that have excelled in the game. Players such as Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Jerry West had made their mark in the league long before Jordan ever played the game.

To be sure, Jordan had a great impact on the game primarily during his playing years with the Chicago Bulls. Jordan led the team to six championship finals, winning all six during the 1990s. His legend is firmly cemented into the history of the great city, and many fans feel he has no equal. It is hard to argue against Jordan in light of his success in all the titles he achieved, but basketball is a team sport, and winning a championship needs a team effort. There have been countless superstars who played in the league that did not have good teammates, and never won a title. Chamberlain falls into that category.

Chamberlain did win two NBA titles in his career, but no one in the game ever dominated it the way he did. He holds several league records, one of which is that he is the only player ever to score 100 points in a single game. However, when Chamberlain played the game, the NBA was not as big as it was in the 90s. During the 90s, the league enjoyed a much greater popularity among American viewers, and much of this can be attributed to the greatness of Michael Jordan. Jordan brought a style of play that had rarely been seen in the NBA. He garnered many individual awards during his career. He played his last few seasons as a member of the Washington Bullets.
 

  • 02 دی 1402

BABE RUTH: THE GREATEST BASEBALL PLAYER

Henry Ford was an American inventor who is credited with inventing the automobile assembly line. German automaker, Karl Benz, is credited with inventing the first motor vehicle in the late 1880s, but Ford was the man who made it possible for everyday citizens to own one. Before Ford came up with his assembly line process, cars were built one at a time by hand, which was a very costly and inefficient method of production. Ford's assembly line revolutionized the way cars were built, and his methods are still in use today.

In 1886, Benz patented his Motorwagen, which was a four-wheel, two-passenger, self-powered motor coach that was designed to replace the horse and carriage. These vehicles were expertly crafted, but were available to only the wealthiest people of the time. Thanks to Ford, that all changed in 1906. His Ford Motor Company, the first automobile company to use assembly line techniques to build cars. transformed the automobile from an expensive curiosity to a practical tool that could be used to transport people and goods easily and efficiently. His first mass-produced product was the Model T. It remains one of the most sold vehicles ever, and was the first to reach 15 million sales.

Ford's impact on the 20th Century cannot be overstated. At one time it was estimated that nine out of 10 vehicles on American roads were Fords. His cars spurred the American economy like no other single factor. The country's roadways were built in response to the great number of vehicles Ford and subsequent American automakers produced. Additionally, Ford's vehicles created a network of support industries such as parts, repair, and maintenance services. It also caused a revolution in how goods were transported in the country. Henry Ford was a true American icon.

Arguably the greatest Major League Baseball player of all time is George Herman Ruth. The "Babe," as he was known, is largely responsible for building the game as it exists today. The stadium where he played in New York is commonly called "The House that Ruth Built." Ruth played baseball for 22 years for the Boston Red Sox, and the New York Yankees, where he rewrote the record books. He almost single-handedly invented the home run, which is baseball's most cherished feat. Before Ruth, the home run was a novelty. It was a game of strategy, but the Babe changed all that.

Ruth was born in a rough section of Baltimore, Maryland in 1895. Much of his childhood has been lost to history. He spent a number of years at St. Mary's reformatory school after being labeled as "incorrigible." His behavior was thought to be beyond rehabilitation. When exactly he got his start in baseball is also a mystery. Some accounts offer that he was placed on St. Mary's baseball team by the coach of the time. One popular story has Ruth being sent to the school because of his natural ability to hit a baseball. The story is that Ruth broke many windows while playing baseball on the streets, and that is why he was sent to the school in the first place.

Before the 1920s, baseball was a slow game that included advancing players around the bases by strategically hitting the ball within the park. Ruth came in and was soon hitting balls out of the ballpark to the delight of the fans in attendance. The home run became an integral part of the game. Ruth earned several nicknames because of his power, including the "Bambino," and the "Sultan of Swat."

When Ruth was traded by the Red Sox to the Yankees in a very unpopular move, the Yankees won seven World Series championships in his 12 years. Ruth made headlines for his after-hours antics in New York City as well. His drinking, and womanizing are well-documented. However, Ruth was a spiritual man who lived-out his years as a devout Catholic.

  • 02 دی 1402

KOBE BRYANT: THE INCREDIBLE BASKETBALL STAR

Kobe Bryant is a professional basketball player, who played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He first joined the team as a 17-year-old teenager in 1996. During the time, Bryant led the Lakers to five National Basketball Association titles. The most recent championship was in 2010, when the Lakers beat their arch rival, the Boston Celtics. The Lakers also won seven western conference titles and eight Pacific Division titles during Bryant's time.

The Lakers are one of the most successful teams in the history of the NBA. They have appeared in 31 championship finals, more than any other teams in the league. The team has won more regular season games than any other franchise. It is clearly one of the premier NBA organizations, which came into existence in 1946.

Before Bryant, the Lakers already had some of the most notable superstars the league has ever known. Players such as George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Magic Johnson. Bryant had been central in establishing, and maintaining the legacy of this great team. He is the latest, and possible greatest of them all.

His individual statistics are astounding. He is the youngest player ever to score 30,000 points. He has been selected to the NBA's All Star team every year he has played, with the exception of his rookie season. He has won two Olympic Gold Medals in Basketball, leading the United States Olympic titles in 2008 in Beijing, and in the London games of 2012. In 2006, Bryant became the 2nd player in the history of the game to score more than 80 points in a single game. Only Chamberlain has scored more. He holds several Laker individual records, including most seasons played, most All Star selections, most points scored, and most playoff games played.

  • 02 دی 1402

TIGER WOODS: A GREAT AMERICAN GOLF CHAMPION

Golf is one of the most popular games in the United States today. There have been many great champions over the years like Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus, but none has seen success like Tiger Woods. His father was black; his mother was Thai. He was born and lived his early life in Thailand.

Woods joined the pro golf tour at the age of 20 in 1996, where he began setting records for winning championships at a young age. He was one of the most promising young stars to hit the tour in years, which led to Woods acquiring several, lucrative contracts with Nike, and Titleist. Woods became a very young millionaire. In 2001, Woods became the first player in history to hold the title in all four major golf tournaments. It seemed there was nothing this young man could not accomplish.

Woods grew up in Orange County, California, and studied for two years at prestigious Stanford University. Woods began playing golf at an early age, and before long was winning amateur championships regularly. He was the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Rookie of the Year in 1996. He has been named PGA Player of the Year, and PGA Tour Player of the Year, 11 times each. He has also led the tour as the biggest money winner several years. He was married, and had two children. His life was presumed ideal, but that changed in 2009.

Woods was exposed as a womanizer by several women, following an alleged affair with a New York woman. Woods denied any wrongdoing, but eventually confessed to several "indiscretions". The controversy kept gaining momentum, and it eventually led to his divorce and the loss of endorsement money from the sponsors. Woods is back on the tour, but has not regained his proficiency as before.

  • 02 دی 1402

JESSE OWENS: THE MAN WHO DEFIED HITLER

During the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, Chancellor Adolf Hitler vowed to use the games to showcase Aryan superiority to the rest of the world. Hitler was convinced that the white, Aryan male was part of the superior race, and promised his games would prove this superiority on the Olympic stage. American track and field athlete, James "Jesse" Owens, had a different idea.

Owens was an excellent athlete at Ohio State University during the early 1930s. During one track meet in 1935, Owens set three world records, and tied another, in what has been called "the greatest 45 minutes ever in sports." Although Owens found great success in his athletic career, he grew up during a time in America when black people were still highly discriminated against. Segregation laws were still in effect in many parts of the country, and Owens felt this prejudice directly. He was not able to stay in the same hotel rooms as his white teammates, nor was he allowed to eat at the same restaurants. Ironically, Owens was treated better during his time at the 36th Olympics in Germany.

During the games, Hitler became annoyed that Owens was winning so many gold medals. Owens was proving Hitler's racist claims and rhetoric as untrue. Hitler didn't like it. Owens ended up winning four gold medals at these games. Hitler refused to shake his hand. One of the defining moments of the games is when Owens was befriended by German athlete Luz Long. Owens cherished his friendship with Long, especially because he knew that Long could fall out of favor with Hitler's brutal regime.

Many German fans shook Owen's hands, even though Hitler did not, but when Owens returned to the United States, he found not much had changed in there.

  • 02 دی 1402

STEVEN SPIELBERG: HOLLYWOODS BEST DIRECTOR

One of the finest Hollywood directors in the history of the film industry is Steven Allan Spielberg. Spielberg has directed some of the most significant and popular films in recent Hollywood history. His list of films reads like a who's who in the movie industry. He has directed such blockbusters as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Schindler's List, and Saving Private Ryan.

Born into a Jewish family on December 18, 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the young Spielberg showed an interest in filmmaking during his teen years. When he was 12 years old, Spielberg created a nine-minute film to earn his photography badge in the Boy Scouts. This was the first film he made. His parents divorced when he was 13, and Spielberg moved with his family to California. After graduating from high school, he applied to the University of Southern California (USC) to learn filmmaking, but did not graduate. Instead he attended Long Beach State, where he earned his degree in Film Production and Electronic Arts, 35 years after first attending college.

His early work was as a television writer, having written scripts for popular shows such as Night Gallery, Marcus Welby, M.D., and Columbo in the 70s. His breakthrough film in Hollywood was 1975's Jaws, which is one of the most popular, highest-grossing blockbuster in the history of the Silver Screen. He followed the success of Jaws with several films that have earned him a spot in Hollywood lore. His films have become household names.

Spielberg shows no signs of slowing down. He is involved in several film projects as a director, and a producer. He has been married twice, and has six children. He was voted Forbes Magazine's Most Influential Celebrity in America in 2014. His personal wealth is estimated to be more than $3 billion.

  • 02 دی 1402

MICHAEL JACKSON: A CONTROVERSIAL POP STAR

There may be no greater entertainer in the history of music in the United States than the late Michael Jackson. The list of Jackson's peers in the industry is very short, to say the least. Jackson began his career in the early 1970s as the youngest member of the musical group The Jackson 5. Michael was the lead singer, and arguably the most talented of the five brothers who made up the band. He was born on August 29, 1958 as the eighth child of 10 in an African American family from Gary Indiana. The driving force behind the group's success was their father, Joseph "Joe" Jackson. The group was very popular in its time, but young Michael would go out on his own career soon after. He was a successful singer, songwriter, actor, dancer, and businessman, but his career was not without controversy.

His album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time. It was released in 1982, and was followed by a series of successful albums, films, music videos, and business ventures. In 1993 the first of several people came forward to accuse Jackson of sexually improper conduct on a child. This and other accusations would haunt Jackson throughout his adult life. Jackson also gained a reputation of strange behavior. One of the indelible images often associated with Jackson is when he held his newborn child over a hotel balcony to show it to his public.

It was rumored that Jackson bought the bones of the famous Elephant Man, slept in an oxygen tent, and that he altered his appearance to appear white. His photographs from his childhood and as a young adult show a very different Jackson. He married twice in his life including a brief marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the equally great musician, Elvis Presley.

Jackson died on June 25, 2009, and even his death was not without controversy. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his doctor, who was subsequently found guilty.

  • 02 دی 1402

MICKEY MOUSE: THE WORLD FAMOUS CARTOON CHARACTER

There is perhaps no greater American cartoon character than the world famous Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse is a creation of the late Walt Disney, who pioneered the age of theme parks into popular, American culture. Today, Mickey is the official mascot of the Walt Disney Corporation. He is what is called an anthropomorphic character, which is a term used to describe a non-human character that has human characteristics. Mickey can speak, laugh, cry, and use his hands like a human. He also walks on two legs rather than four. His trademark red shorts, large yellow shoes, white gloves, and over-sized mouse ears make him one of the most recognizable cartoon characters in America, and in the world.

Mickey was created by Disney in 1928 in the short film Steamboat Willie. That film was the first of 130 films starring the famous mouse. He has also starred in 10 full-length, feature films. In the 1930s, Mickey began to appear in comic books, and on November 18, 1978 he got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He became the first cartoon character to earn a star on the historic sidewalk. Ten of his films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film with Lend a Paw winning the award. Walt Disney received an Honorary Award for creating the character in 1932.

One of the most popular children's shows in American history was the "Mickey Mouse Club," which ran from 1955 to 1996. Mickey has a girlfriend named Minnie Mouse, a dog named Pluto, and a host of friends that include Donald, and Daisy Duck, who are stars on their own.

Today, Mickey Mouse merchandise can be found world wide. He appears in all Disney theme parks throughout the world. In 1988 Mickey made his last full-length film appearance when he starred in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This was a significant occurrence because it was the first time that Disney characters starred alongside Warner Brother's characters. The two corporations had been long-time rivals.

  • 02 دی 1402

JACKIE ROBINSON: BREAKING THE COLOR LINE

There was a time in the United States when black people were not allowed to play the game of baseball with white players. That was before the great Jackie Robinson broke what was called the color line in baseball. Prior to April 15, 1947, Major League Baseball was an exclusive "whites only" organization that barred black players from participation. Black Americans could only play in the Negro Leagues that existed roughly between 1920 through 1948. Robinson, and the Brooklyn Dodgers, put an end to segregation in baseball that year, and began a movement for racial equality in the United States.

Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919, but grew up in Pasadena, California, near Los Angeles. He was an outstanding athlete who played baseball and football for Pasadena City College, then at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). During his time with the Dodgers, the team won one championship, and appeared in the World Series six times. From 1949 to 1954, Robinson was named to the All-Star Team, and he won the National League Most Valuable Player Award. He was also named the Baseball Rookie of the Year in 1947, the first year the award was given.

Today, Robinson is honored by every team in both the National and American Leagues on Jackie Robinson Day. On that day, all MLB players wear the number 42 in honor of Robinson. That number, used to be worn by Robinson, was retired universally by all baseball teams, making it the first time any league has retired a number. No player on any MLB team can ever wear that number again. Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962. He died on October 24, 1972, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal for his part in changing American society.

  • 02 دی 1402

VAN HALEN: FROM GARAGE BAND TO SUPERSTARDOM

Van Halen is to Rock 'n' Roll as Cadillac is to automobiles. It is one of the most popular bands ever to perform in the country, and is still going strong 40 years later. It is known as one of the best bands ever to come from a garage-band background. Founded by brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen in their home in Pasadena, California in 1972, the band was one of the top rock acts in the country, and is as popular today as it was back then.

Eddie Van Halen is considered one of the best lead guitarists in the history of music by many of his peers, while Alex was a superior drummer. Together, they formed the nucleus of the popular band that also included bass guitarist, Michael Anthony, and vocalist, David Lee Roth. The brothers were born in the Netherlands, and immigrated to the United States when they were children. The two were inseparable, and developed an interest in music in the mid-60s. They formed the band in 1972, using the name Genesis. They later changed the name to Mammoth when Eddie discovered Genesis was already in use. Eventually they renamed the band Van Halen.

According to popular legend, Van Halen was discovered by Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss, while they were performing at Gazzarri's on the Strip, a popular spot for heavy metal rock bands in the 70s. They continued to play at gigs throughout Southern California when they released their self-titled debut album Van Halen in 1978. The album peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard list, and the band never looked back. Van Halen's greatest commercial success was from 1978 through 1985, but their albums continue to sell. It has garnered a cult-like following from several, younger generations of American Rock 'n' Roll fans.

  • 02 دی 1402

JANE FONDA: AMERICAN PATRIOT OR TRAITOR?

One of the most divisive eras in American history is the Vietnam era. The Vietnam era for the United States ran roughly from 1960 through 1975. In the mid to late 60s, America's involvement became a huge issue. The conflict in Vietnam was divisive for many reasons, but mostly because of the public's perception that it was an immoral and illegal operation. The other major factor was that the U.S. was still engaged in drafting young men into the service of the country against their will.

One of Hollywood's major film stars of the time was Jane Fonda. Fonda came from Hollywood movie royalty, being the daughter of the great actor, Henry Fonda. She won two Oscars, seven Golden Globe awards, and an Emmy award through her long career. In the 60s she was a political activist who was against the war in Vietnam. She was very outspoken against the conflict, as many celebrities were at the time.

In 1970, Fonda made headlines for a very different reason. She and two fellow actors starred in an anti-war film that drew much controversy. In July of 1972, Fonda drew the wrath of many Americans when she was photographed sitting with North Vietnamese Army members on an anti-aircraft gun. That image soiled her reputation as an actress, and as a true American. Many called Fonda a traitor for interacting with the enemy. Years later, Fonda said that she was manipulated into taking that photo, but many Americans still have their doubts.

During her trip to North Vietnam, which was at war with the U.S. backed South Vietnam, Fonda made a number of radio broadcasts denouncing America's involvement in the war. This further cemented her image as a traitor. However, there are many Americans who feel she was a true patriot because she refused to stand still and spoke out against the war.

  • 02 دی 1402

BARRY BONDS: CHEATER OR LEGEND?

Baseball is the oldest major league sport in the United States today. With the growing popularity of American football and basketball, baseball now must share the limelight with these sports. During the late 1990s, baseball was in trouble. Attendance was down. High profile sports that featured fast-paced action such as football and basketball were stealing baseball's thunder. That was all before Barry Bonds and a couple of other sluggers brought the game back to center stage.

Bonds played the first part of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he enjoyed moderate success. After being traded to the San Francisco Giants in 1992, Bonds began a second career that put him into the spotlight for both the right and wrong reasons. At an age when most players begin to decline in performance because of their advancing age, Bonds went on a home run tear that was unprecedented in the history of the game.

Bonds never hit more than 34 home runs in one year for the Pirates, but, playing for the Giants, he hit an astounding 73 home runs in 2001. This shattered a record that had stood for 40 years. Bonds was 38 years old by the end of the 2001 season, and many questioned how he could put up numbers like that. The answer to that question came out years later when Bonds was accused of taking illegal, performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds eventually broke Henry Aaron's record for most home runs in a career, but many baseball purists feel that the record is tainted because of the illegal drug use.

Bonds' post baseball career has been damaged because of the drug use, and Major League Baseball has implemented a drug use policy since his retirement. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of perjury for lying about his drug use, but was able to strike a deal to stay out of jail. In any event, his legacy is forever soiled.

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MIKE TYSON: THE YOUNGEST BOXING CHAMP

Boxing is big in America. The history of the sport precedes the establishment of the United States by thousands of years. The ancient Greeks are said to have included a form of boxing as far back as 600 BC. The modern sport of boxing can be traced to the 16th Century when it became a popular sport in Great Britain. Today, the sport still uses a variation of the Marquess of Queensberry rules that were established in 1867. Boxing is the purest form of competition. It pits one man, or woman, against another in an enclosed ring with only the person's fists as weapons. Early matches in the United States featured bare-knuckle fighting, but today boxers use protective gloves.

One of the most successful boxers in America is Mike Tyson. Tyson holds several boxing records. The greatest is possibly when he became the youngest boxer ever to win the heavyweight championship in three different boxing organizations. Tyson was just over 20 years old when he accomplished this feat. He was one of the most feared fighters of his time. Tyson won a total of 50 fights with 44 of those victories coming by knockout.

Twelve of Tyson's knockouts came in the first round, which earned him the nickname of Iron Mike. Eventually, his advancing age and fast living took their toll on Tyson. By the early 90s, his career was virtually over. Even though his boxing career lasted until 2002, Tyson was never the same. He went on to a brief acting career, most notably in the popular 2009 comedy hit The Hangover.

Tyson's post-boxing career had its ups and downs. He appeared on Barbara Walter's talk show with his wife, television actress Robin Givens, where Givens called Tyson a manic-depressive, and that living with him was pure torture. Tyson was arrested in 1991 for raping an 18-year-old girl, and spent several years in jail. He has attempted several comebacks, but has never regained his old glory.

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BARACK OBAMA: AMERICA'S FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT

Since 2008, Barack Obama has been president of the United States of America. He is a historic figure primarily because he is the first African American to hold the position of president. His policies have gained him many supporters, as well as many detractors. He is possibly one of the most divisive presidents to govern the country in the history of the United States. Obama is a representative of the Democratic Party with his presidency coming after the controversial George W. Bush left office.

One of the defining aspects of his presidency is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly and inaccurately called Obamacare. This act, passed into law by the U.S. Congress and signed by the president in March 2010, became effective on January 1, 2014. It is the single, most significant change in government healthcare since Medicare was implemented in 1965. This act was intended to increase the affordability of care for Americans, expand insurance coverage, and lower the uninsured rate in the country. It is a controversial act that has many detractors, but most Americans now carry health insurance, which was not true before 2014.

Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961. He is a graduate of both Columbia University in New York City, and Harvard Law School. Before becoming president, he served as senator for the state of Illinois. He is considered a liberal by many southern conservatives, but this may be an unfair label. The perception is largely due to the Affordable Care Act, and his attempts at immigration reform. Additionally, Obama ended the U.S. involvement in the Iraq war. He also ordered the military operation that eventually resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. Obama was reelected as president in November, 2012.

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YAO MING: BIGGER THAN LIFE

Yao Ming is one of the most influential individuals ever to live in the United States of America. So, how does a 22-year-old Chinese male, born in Shanghai, become an international superstar, who changes the way both cultures look at each other? Ming stands 7'6", which makes him one of the tallest players ever to play the game, but that is not the extent of his power. Ming is tall, and talented.

Ming started his career in China, where he played for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. That was the season when the Sharks won a CBA championship. He was able to negotiate a release from his contract with the Sharks, making him eligible for the National Basketball Association draft in 2002. Ming was one of the most sought-after players ever to come from China, and he was eventually drafted by the Houston Rockets.

Ming found moderate success in the NBA. His size and strength made him a formidable presence. He was so big and talented that he could dominate any game just by being on the court. Ming led the Rockets to the team's first playoff appearance in several years, but his statistical totals were not so impressive. Still, Ming was one of the most popular players in NBA history. The fans loved him, and voted him into the All-Star game eight times.

Ming did create some degree of resentment from other players, most notably Shaquille O'Neal from the Los Angeles Lakers. O'Neal was one of the most dominant players in the game for a brief number of years, and in 2003, Ming outvoted O'Neal in an NBA fan vote by more than 250,000 votes. This angered O'Neal, who vowed to outplay Ming whenever the two giants met on the court.

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OPRAH WINFREY: HER INCREDIBLE LIFE

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful women in the history of the United States of America. Winfrey was born in a small town in Mississippi in 1954 into a poor family. She is now one of the richest people in the world, and the richest black Americans in the country. She was also named as the richest African American in the 20th Century. Winfrey is known to most Americans through her daytime show called "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Her show is very popular among television viewers because she likes to tackle the tough issues many other daytime TV hosts avoid.

Winfrey's early life was difficult. She lived with her mother and grandmother at times. While living with her grandmother, she learned to read by the age of three, and had memorized many bible passages. Her mother was an unwed teenager at the time of her birth, and had a difficult time raising her. Winfrey had two half-sisters. One died young as a result of cocaine addiction, and she did not learn about her other sister until 2010. Winfrey also was not certain who her father was.

Winfrey suffered from sexual abuse from her uncle, cousin, and family friend, and became pregnant at 14. She lost her baby shortly after birth though. Winfrey survived her early years, and at 17 won a local beauty contest before getting her first break in the media industry as a radio newscaster. This was her first step into the media market.

Her show began in Chicago in 1983, and within a few years, it became the No. 1 daytime, talk show in the country. She has interviewed some of the most famous people in the country on her popular show. Winfrey starred in the movie The Color Purple, and now owns her own production company called Harpo Films. She is a philanthropist who is famous for her generosity, and remains one of the most influential Americans in the country.