Famous Female Athletes of Ohio

Ohio has its own special place in sports history–here are some brief highlights of just a few female Ohioans who made their name in sports.

From Loveland, Ohio: Maude Bechdolt Detro competed in the Summer Olympics, 1972, in archery. She came in 28th.

Grove City, Ohio: Ann Grossman was a nationally ranked tennis player at just the age of 9. In 1988, she qualified to play at the US Open (she was just 16) and went pro just two years later in 1988 (at the age of 18). In 1998 after an impressive career she retired.

60 Years before the WNBA would even exist, the girls of Elmore High School (1931) took home the Ottawa County Championship.

Commercial Point, Ohio: Sarah Fisher found herself the 3rd youngest driver and, overall, the youngest woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500 at the turn of the century in 2000. She also became the youngest woman to place, coming in at an impressive 3rd.

Formed in 1971 the Toledo Troopers formed to play in the Women’s Professional Football League. They went on to become one of the most-winning teams in all of professional football history.

These highlights capture just some of Ohio’s famous female athletes.

Famous Ohioans: Hallie Quinn Brown

Hallie Quinn Brown was born in 1850 in Pittsburgh, PA. Brown’s parents were former slaves. The family moved to Canada first before settling in Wilberforce, OH. Here Brown would attend Wilberforce College. She received a degree in 1873. Brown would go on to teach at Allen University and even serve as Dean for the University. She would become Dean of Women at Tuskegee Institute. Brown eventually comes back to Ohio where she taught in the Dayton public school system.

Brown had a long-time interest in public speaking. In 1895 she would address a large audience at the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Conference in London. Serving as one of the US representatives in 1899 she spoke at the International Congress of Women in London, UK. Brown also had the honor of speaking before Queen Victoria.

Brown became involved in the suffrage campaign for women’s right to vote. Not slowing down, Brown helped organize the Colored Women’s League in Washington, D.C.. This organization would ally with others to become the National Association of Colored Women. Brown would become president of NACW and in the last year of her position spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH.

Hallie Q. Brown wrote and published several notable books. The most well know was her Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction. In which Brown documented the lives of African American women of the time. She died in Wilberforce, Ohio in 1949.

Harriet Taylor Upton, Famous Ohio Suffragette

Harriet Taylor was born in Ravenna, Ohio in 1853, daughter of Judge Ezra Taylor. In 1880, Upton’s father was elected to Congress to succeeding President Garfield as he left the position. In Washington DC where she moved with her father Upton would meet Susan B. Anthony and other members of the suffrage movement.

Once back in Ohio, Upton became an essential organizer and the first president of the Suffrage Association of Warren. Her family had moved to Warren previous to her father’s appointment to Congress.

In 1894 became the treasurer of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. This was the leading national organization for women’s suffrage. Upton brought that organization’s headquarters to Warren for about seven years between 1903-10.

Upton saw the passing of the 19th amendment. Afterwards she was elected Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Republican National Convention. In 1924 she tried running for Congress but did not win the campaign. Upton had some success as a politician by being elected to the Warren Board of Elections.
Upton and her husband lost their wealth during the Great Depression. Unfortunately, Upton spent her final days in poverty in California. Harriet Taylor Upton died in 1945 at 91 years of age.

Today, Upton’s legacy is upheld at the Harriet Taylor Upton House in Warren, OH. It is registered as a National Historical Landmark and was saved from destruction by local activists who also worked with a lawyer from California to have her cremains moved to her Warren home instead of a pauper’s grave.

Famous Ohioan Marjorie Whiteman

Marjorie Whiteman is from Liberty Township, Ohio. She was born in 1898. Eventually she would earn two law degrees at Yale Law School. There, she edited the Yale Law Journal. Later she would become a Carnegie Fellow and study international law, which she became an expert in.

From 1920-1926 she taught high school history. In 1929 she filled a post for the State Department. This would begin her career that lasted forty years and where she would make a name for herself. She advised 10 Secretaries of State on international law during her tenure. She also served as special assistant to Green Hackworth, the department’s legal adviser at the time. Whiteman would also help the department with its role in drafting the UN Charter in 1945 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Perhaps most notably she served First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt from 1945-1951 when she was serving as the US representative to the UN General Assembly. She was a major contributor to Hackworth’s 8 volume “Digest of International Law”.

Whiteman would go on to serve as the VP of the American Society of International Law and would be chosen as a member of the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1979
Ohio is proud of your service to our nation Ms. Whiteman.

Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini

Named after his father Lenny—who was also a boxer until WWII injuries ended his career—was the reason Ray Mancini picked up the gloves. In doing so he would become a legend both locally and nationally.

His rise to fame couldn’t have come at a better time—it gave his home, Youngstown, something to cheer for when the depressed industrial city was facing wide spread job loss in the beginning of the 1980’s.

Between ’82-’84 Mancini claimed the World Boxing Associations lightweight champion title. Mancini’s career ended with a 29-5 record, 23 of those wins were via KO. Mancini also came out of boxing with good health and financial standing.

In 2015 he was inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Fans loved his aggressive attack style. As a personality he was modest and endeared himself to fans. People also loved his backstory, “local boy from burned out steel town gets into ring to honor his veteran father”.

Some have said that Boom Boom was one of the last great marquee names during the last great decade of the sport.

For many who know of Mancini, they will forever link him to a 1982 title fight in Las Vegas in which Mancini won by knock out. His opponent, Duk-Koo Kim, was rushed to the hospital, but ultimately died of a brain hemorrhage. Though it took some time, Mancini finally did make peace with the death of his opponent.

While history at large may remember him for this particular fight, Ohioans remember him for his courage, heart and humble personality that made up his thirteen-year career.
In 2014, Mancini moved back to Youngstown and formed the Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini Foundation. The foundation has sponsored events in benefit to other charities and local families and individuals in need.