Eulace Peacock: The Worlds Fastest Human

     E ulace Peacock, nicknamed “The World’s Fastest Human,” was faster than Jesse Owens, the star of the 1936 Olympics. Peacock beat Owens in seven of the ten 100–yard dashes they ran against each other in 1935, but due to an injury Peacock was unable to compete in the Olympics.

Eulace Peacock Eulace Peacock was born August 27, 1914, in Dothan, Alabama, the son of James Peacock, who was part Cherokee Indian, and Rose Ann Chambers. The family moved to East Orange, New Jersey, when Eulace was very young because his father, who had worked in the dining car of a railroad, found employment in a tar plant, probably the Allied Chemical Company in Newark. In 1923 the family moved to Union, New Jersey, and Eulace attended Union schools.

At the age of eleven Eulace could jump eighteen feet in the running long jump, but was not much of a sprinter. His older brother, James, a track and football star at Union High School, inspired Eulace to join the track team. James went on to Temple University where he ran track and played football under the legendary Glenn “Pop” Warner. Their brother, Clarence, competed in track as a hurdler and went on to Rutgers University, eventually becoming a pharmacist.

As a high school track star, Eulace continued to improve in the sprints and never lost a high school contest in the running long jump. In the last meet of the 1933 season, he set a national high school record of 24 feet, 4.5 inches, in the long jump. Upon going home and putting on the radio, hi learned that another high school student, Jesse Owens, broke the world record in the running long jump on that same day. In 1983 Peacock’s mark was still a Union High School record. Eulace’s best high school time for the 100– yard dash was 9.7 seconds and 21.7 seconds for the 220–yard dash. He was chosen an All–State Athlete in New Jersey in football, basketball and track, and was a member of his school’s French and Glee Clubs.

Eulace attended Temple University on a scholarship and was almost a teammate of Jesse Owens, who instead accepted a scholarship to Ohio State University. Through the years both runners became friends and later went into the meat business together under the name of “Owens and Peacock Company.”

Aspiring to the 1936 Olympic Track Team and fearful of injuring his legs, Eulace passed up playing college football. In track he competed in the Pentathlon, the five events consisting of the running broad jump, javelin throw, 200– meter race, discus throw, and 1500–meter flat race. He was the National Champion in 1933, ’34, ’37, ’43, ’44 and ’45. At the National Amateur Athletic Union Championship in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1935 he defeated both Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalf in the 100–meter dash, in the time of 10.2 seconds and defeated Jesse Owens in the running broad jump with a leap of 26 feet, 3 inches. Jesse Owens won the 100–meter dash in the 1936 Olympics with a wind– assisted time of 10.3 seconds.

Eulace Peacock never lost a dual meet, competing for Temple University, and his school records of 9.5 seconds in the 100–yard dash and 26 feet, 3 inches in the long jump, were still Temple University records in 1989, more than fifty years after they were set.

Eulace Peacock competed in Europe with the United States Track Team in 1934 and 1935. In 1934 he tied the 100–meter world record at Oslo, Norway, but while competing in Milan, Italy, in 1935, he pulled a hamstring muscle and reinjured it at the Penn Relays in 1936, ending his chances of trying out for the 1936 Olympic Track Team.

After graduating from Temple, Eulace became an instructor for the New York City Board of Education. He also worked for the Internal Revenue Service prior to serving in the Coast Guard from 1942 to 1945, where as a Chief Petty Officer, he assisted boxer Jack Dempsey in the training of inductees. He coached the only service team to ever win a college championship event, the Penn Relays.

Eulace Peacock became the proprietor of a liquor store in New York City in 1947, and moved to 100 Cook Avenue in Yonkers in 1948, where he raised dogs as a hobby. For many years he officiated at AAU, NCAA, IC4A and Olympic Trial Track Championships. Through the years he has been inducted into the Helm’s Hall of Fame in Los Angeles, joining America’s premier track and field athletes, the New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame, the National Track Hall of Fame in Indianapolis, the Yonkers Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, and the Westchester County Sports Hall of Fame in 1989.

In a television interview at Union High School in 1983, Eulace Peacock stated that the secret to success was hard work and concentration. “You have to sacrifice in order to make it,” he said. His grandson, Michael DiGangi, took these words seriously. A 1996 graduate of Saunders Trade School where he was captain of the swim team, Michael was admitted to the Naval Academy at Annapolis this past July.

—Tom Flynn