Marshall Walter Taylor, also known as Major Taylor was an African-American cyclist who began his career at a very young age. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on the 26th of November, 1878. Taylor saw a very poor childhood and was usually raised without money. His father worked as a farmer who was a Civil War veteran and also worked as a carriage driver for a rich white family. Taylor used to help his father that made him close to his father’s employers, especially their children having the same age as Taylor. This friendship benefited him, and he moved in with one of the family. The young boy started his education and experienced the more stable home situation. He was treated as a family member, and they gifted him a new bike. This bike was his first step towards success so started learning cycling tips and tricks.
Taylor’s different cycling tactics grabbed the attention of one of the local bike shop owners, so he hired him to show some of his tricks to increase his sales. He used to ride the bike wearing a military uniform that earned him an amazing nickname of “Major Taylor.” This nickname remained with him till his last breath.
With lots of encouragement from different people around him, he participated in his first bike race when he was just in his early teen years. Luckily, he went through the 10-mile race and won it easily. When he turned 18, he moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, to start his professional career. He went through his first professional competition, a six-day exhausting ride held at the Madison Square Garden in the New York City but finished eighth. From here only he pedaled towards success and made amazing history. By 1898, he made seven world records, and a year later, he was crowned as the national and international champion that made him the second Black world champion in any sport.
With so much success, Taylor still had to face so many racial attacks and insult for being a Black. His fellow cyclists and fans would taunt him, although Black athletes showed more acceptances to any racism. Taylor went through a hard time during different races, as his fellow cyclist would push him or the crowned would throw things at him. Taylor finally got exhausted by the demanding racing schedules and racism and got retired at the age of 32. But despite all this, he became one of the wealthiest athletes of his time.