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Sim Iness Inducted Into California Community College Sports Hall of Fame - 3/2012
Sim Iness was inducted into the California Community College Sports Hall of Fame, during the California Community College Athletic Association's annual convention. The CCC Sports Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed in California Community College athletics.

The Class of 2012 are:

George Culver -Baseball
Jermaine Dye -Baseball
Sim Iness -Track & Field/Football
Brig Owens -Football
Lon Simmons -Baseball
Sim Iness Inducted In Inaugural Class For Tartar Athletics Hall of Fame - 4/3/2011
Sim Iness was honored by his college alma-mater Compton College, as he was named a part of the inaugural class for induction into the Tartar Athletics Hall of Fame.
Among the honorees were Sim's football teammate, NFL Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny, and Sim's football and track coach Raymond "Tay" Brown.

2011 Inaugural Class Tartar Athletics Hall of Fame:

Team Inductees:
1955 Football National Champions
1969-70 Basketball State Champions
1996 & 1997 Women's 4 x 100 Meter Relay Team

Individual Inductees:
Joe "The Jet" Perry -Football
Hugh McElhenny -Football
Wintress Lang -Women's Track & Field

Special Recognition Inductees:
James Newman -Basketball
Hugo Salcedo -Soccer
Darnell Mitchell -Track & Field/AD

Posthumously Inducted Athletes:
Cornelius "Corny" Johnson -Track & Field
Charlie Dumas -Track & Field
Sim Iness -Track & Field/Football

Posthumously Inducted -Special Recognition:
Pete Rozelle -Sports Information Director/NFL Commissioner
Raymond "Tay" Brown -Football Coach/Track Coach/Basketball Coach/AD
Roosevelt Porter -Track & Field Coach/Equipment Tech./Trainer
Happy Birthday Sim Iness - 7/9/2010

sim inessJuly 9, 2010 will come and go like any another day to many of us.  Today however is the 80th birthday of “our” Olympian Sim Iness.  While there will unfortunately be no celebrations or events to mark this day, let us still pay homage to a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, who brought so much not only to California’s Central Valley, but to the lives of those he touched and encountered throughout his own.   

Sim is not “ours” in a possessive form, for no one truly possesses another.  Rather, Sim is “ours” because so many aspects of his life story are relevant to ours in so many ways.  The Iness family was humble sharecroppers in Oklahoma who had only their crops and each other.  After being blown out of their land and their crops completely wiped out, they only had each other.  Desperately wanting a better life for their family, the Iness’ endured over a month-long odyssey westward in search of a brand new life in the ‘land flowing with milk and honey’, California.  A better life is what they wanted, but along the way they endured the stings and arrows of man’s prejudice, as they were constantly derided as “Okies” along the way and looked at as second class citizens.      

Once in California and the Central Valley, the Iness’ continued what they knew best, farming the land, and they tilled the soil of countless land after countless valley land as migrant farm workers.  Sim’s parents, Garland and Hattie Iness, would work the land till the end of their days. 

For anyone, including Sim, it’s tough to make friends when you go to eight different elementary schools in seven years.  Not to mention for a young teenager, it’s even tougher not being able to play sports initially; instead helping with the family income by feeding and milking the cows at 4:00 every morning and afternoon. 

High school is a rough transition for many teenagers, filled with all the insecurities of their young age.  This was very true for Sim.  Entering high school, he began growing into a giant (eventually topping out at 6’6”, 240lbs in his prime).  He was clumsy and felt very awkward due to his size as he was still growing into his body.  Already shy and insecure because of this, kids teased him, which brought his quiet nature and shyness to the forefront even more.  He had yet to harness his body’s strength and power which would one day win him an Olympic gold medal and countless athletic titles.  He did not know his own strength, nor what he was capable of, both physically and in life.  Due to his family’s lack of finances, he was never destined to go to college.

While in high school he found a sense of purpose through sport, and with a coach that truly believed in him, Sim began to grow as a man, both personally and athletically.  It is somewhat anti-climactic when an entire town is behind two of their hometown boys to make the first Olympic team of the post-WWII era and only one makes it, but that is in fact what happened.  However this only strengthened Sim’s resolve.  And when the conquering hero returned from London, Sim was one of the first persons that he saw congratulating him as he stepped off the plane, while Sim helped hoist the champion onto his shoulders.

With the support of an entire town behind him in the form of a college scholarship, college would now become a reality for Sim.  Subsequently, he would be the first in his family ever to attend college.  Along the way he had to sacrifice his education and temporarily drop out of college in order to work a daunting full time schedule of two jobs in order to support his wife and recently born daughter.

Sim’s vast athletic achievements are now that of legend.  But while even stepping into the Olympic discus ring in Helsinki, Finland in 1952, Sim was the underdog.  Although he was the most confident of discus throwers that day and knew what he could do within his ability, he still had to overcome a solid field of competitors which included both the current Olympic champion and current World Record holder. 

Appearing in two films to earn extra income for his family while in college, rather than continuing with a movie career and a role already signed for him in the now classic Humphrey Bogart film ‘The Harder They Fall’, Sim instead chose to devote his life to teaching and coaching.  Rather than choosing a big name or athletically acclaimed university to teach at, his humble nature instead took him to a high school and later a community college.  While he taught and coached, instead of drawing upon his own athletic achievements, Sim would instead regale with pride to his students, stories of the athletic and Olympic feats of his best friend and former classmate and teammate Bob Mathias.  Many of Sim’s students were not even aware that their own teacher was an Olympic gold medalist and World Record holder until long after they were instructed by the man himself.

While Sim’s name and achievements are unfortunately not as instantly recognizable as they once were during his athletic prime, echoes of his legacy can still be found throughout.  From a high school gymnasium named for him, to his place of induction in several halls of fame, to his own internet web-site, the enduring legacy and story of Sim Iness is still prevalent in this day and age, if not more so than ever before.  For his is a story filled with the ups and downs and sacrifices that we can all relate to.  For those that knew Sim, his was the biggest success story of all, and it provides a beacon of understanding and hope to any person who with their given lot in life at this present time can identify with the struggles of life and of an uncertain future.  

One never heard a bad word uttered about Sim Iness.  But rather countless sentiments of admiration, respect, and genuine love for the man and how he lived his life continue to echo to this day as big as the man himself.

Sim Iness was a literal giant among men, but a gentle giant at that.  He has taught countless millions through the years, and he will continue to do so, as long as people are willing to listen.  Happy Birthday Gentle Giant.

Olympic Cauldron Plaque Unvieled Honoring Sim Iness & Bob Mathias - 12/15/2009
caulderon plaque honoring sim iness and bob mathiasA plaque honoring the achievements of Tulare Olympians Bob Mathias and Sim Iness was recently installed to Tulare's Olympic Cauldron, located at Bob Mathias Stadium on the campus of Tulare Union High School. With the generous help of the Tulare Noon Kiwanis Club, several refurbishments have been made to the working cauldron, which has been in place since 1995 after a 20 year hiatus of the original, which was used for the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics. For more pictures, including the plaque text, visit the 'Legacy' tab in the Photos section.
Wanted: Personal Recollectinos/Memorabilia For Upcoming Book! -10/30/2009

As the authorized biographer of Sim Iness for the Iness family, research efforts continue to be under way for the upcoming book, tentatively titled "Sim Iness, The Gentle Giant: The Rags to Riches Story of an Olympic Champion."

If you or anyone you know have any personal accounts of Sim Iness throughout his life and career, or if you have any memorabilia, please contact the Webmaster to help aid in his on-going research. Upon completion of the project, all materials retrieved will be placed in the archives of the Sim Iness Collection, housed at the Tulare City Historical Museum in Sim's hometown of Tulare, California.

I look forward to hearing from you and discussing things further.

Vote For Sim Iness For Next Athletic Trading Card - 10/30/2009
Visit sportskingsgum.com and vote for Sim Iness in the category of Track and Field, for selection to their next series of sport trading cards. Tell everyone you know; the more votes the better in order to make it happen! Twenty five years after Sim was first honored to be on a trading card, it's now time for a new generation of card collectors and fans to receive another one!


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