Charlie Sifford, considered by many “the Jackie Robinson of professional golf,” has died.
Sifford, 92, lived in Shaker Heights.
Born in North Carolina, Sifford helped desegregate the Professional Golfers’ Association.
In November he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
After joining the PGA, Sifford went on to win several PGA events and PGA Seniors’ Championship and was eventually inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004.
“Charles Sifford is not only a world-class athlete, he is a civil rights leader who risked his safety for what is right,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said in an announcement about his receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “Despite discrimination and threats of violence, Mr. Sifford broke barriers and laid important groundwork for future generations. He has earned this great honor.”
Sifford won six National Negro Opens before successfully challenging the PGA’s “caucasian only” rule — despite harassment and death threats — in 1960. He won his first PGA title in 1967 and another in 1969.