William DeHart Hubbard was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 25, 1903. He would go on to excel in track and field at the collegiate level before becoming an Olympian and winning the gold medal in the 1924 Games.
An Omega Phi Psi member during his time at the University of Michigan, he would become a three-time NCAA champion. He would win the championship in the long jump in 1923 and 1925 and the 100-yard dash in 1925.
DeHart Hubbard’s collegiate achievements also include seven Big Ten championships with the long jump and 50-yard dash in 1923, the long jump in between 1923 and 1925, and the 100-yard dash in 1924 and 1925. Hubbard’s 1925 long jump record was 25 feet and 3 ½ inches remained on the books until 1935 when Jesse Owens broke it with his 26 feet 8 ¼ jump. His 1925 jump remains at second place in the conference.
Hubbard’s dominance in track and field between 1923 and 1924 led to him being selected for the U.S. national team. At the Paris Olympic Games, his sport of choice was the running long jump. His performance would win him the gold medal, making him the first Black athlete to win Olympic gold.
Following this, he set two world records. The first was in Chicago where he achieved a 25 foot and 10 ¾ inches long jump in June 1925. In Cincinnati, he completed a 100-yard dash in 9.6 seconds in 1926.
After graduating with honors, he became supervisor of the Department of Colored Work in Cincinnati after college. Hubbard worked here until 1941 when he became the manager of the Valley Homes housing projects.
He made the move to Cleveland in 1942 and worked as the race relations advisor to the Federal Housing Authority. During his time in Cleveland, DeHart Hubbard founded the Cincinnati Tigers baseball team of the Negro American League. He was also president of the National Bowling Association and president of the National Track Hall of Fame in 1957.
In 1969, he retired from the Housing Authority. There years after his death on June 23, 1976, he was inducted into the University of Michigan Hall of Honor. In 2010, he was honored by his fraternity with the William DeHart Hubbard Scholarship Fund at the University of Michigan.