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U.S.LIFE > People > Biographies of Famous Americans > Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Athletic Pioneer

"My goal was to be the greatest athlete that ever lived."

Mildred Didrickson was called "Baby" by her parents. Soon her nickname was altered to "Babe" because of her ability to hit like Babe Ruth. She was a relentless self-promoter who was thrilled by the "unladylike" world of sports.

Babe excelled in all sports, especially basketball and track, and by 1932 was chosen "the world's greatest girl athlete" by Famous Athletes of Today magazine. After winning three medals (two gold, one silver) at the 1932 Olympics, she became a professional golfer and won 83 competitions. In 1938, she married professional wrestler George Zaharias.

Babe helped found the Ladies Professional Golf Association and was chosen female "Athlete of the Half Century" in 1950. A six-time Associated Press "Female Athlete of the Year," Babe was dubbed "the athletic phenomenon of all time, man or woman" by sports writer Grantland Rice.

Tragically, Babe's reign was cut short by cancer. Before her death, she and George established a fund to help others suffering from the disease.

This information was provided courtesy of American Women! A Celebration of our History from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum.


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