John Carlos - Updated Feb 2024

Updated On February 12, 2024
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John Carlos

John Carlos is a retired track and field athlete and professional American football player from the United States. John Carlos is best known for his iconic protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

Early Life

John Carlos was born in Harlem, New York, the United States, on June 5, 1945. His full name is John Wesley Carlos and he is American by nationality. He comes under the birth sign of Gemini and is currently 78 years old. Moreover, he belongs to the Black Cuban ethnicity.

He was born in Jamaica West Indies to Black Cuban parents. Moreover, his parent’s names are Earl V. Carlos, Sr. and Vioris (née Lawrence). His father was a World War I soldier, originally from Camden, South Carolina.

John Carlos – Education

Carlos was a talented high school athlete and an outstanding student. Further, he went on to attend East Texas State University on a full-time track and field scholarship. In 1967, he helped ETSU win the Lone Star Conference Championship by winning the 100- and 200-meter sprints and the four×400-meter relay. He enrolled at San Jose State University. There, he was eligible for National Track & Field Hall of Fame coach Lloyd (Bud) Winter.

Professional Career

The 1968 Olympic Tests were held on the Californian side of Lake Tahoe at the Echo Summit trailhead, which is 7.377 meters above sea level, around the same height as Mexico City. John Carlos won the 200-meter race in 19.92 seconds, breaking Tommie Smith’s world record by 0.3 seconds.

Although the record was never ratified because the design of Carlos’ shoes (“brush spikes”) was not permitted at the time, the race helped him establish himself as a world-class sprinter.

In 1967, he won the 200-meter gold medal at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, setting indoor records in the 60-meter (5.9) and 220-meter indoor sprint (21.2).

As a founding member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR), he proposed a boycott of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games until four conditions were met.

These included the removal of South Africa and Rhodesia from the Games, the return of Muhammad Ali’s world heavyweight boxing title, the retirement of Avery Brundage as president of the IOC, and the recruitment of more African American assistant coaches.

As the boycott failed to get clearance after the IOC cancelled invitations to South Africa and Rhodesia, he agreed to compete alongside Smith but promised to protest if he won a medal.

Displayed the Black Power salute on the podium with Tommie Smith

He gained international attention for his actions during the medal ceremony for the 200-meter event at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

During the ceremony, John Carlos, along with fellow American athlete Tommie Smith, raised their fists in a Black Power salute while the U.S. national anthem played.

Caption: John Carlos and Tommie Smith in 1968 Olympics Black Power salute (Source:

This gesture was a powerful protest against racial inequality and injustice. The athletes wore black gloves and went shoeless to symbolize African American poverty. The protest was also a response to the ongoing civil rights movement and the struggle for equality.

He had his best year in track and field in 1969, equaling the world’s 100-yard record of 9.1, and winning the AAU 220-yard race. Later,  he led San Jose State to its first NCAA title with 100 and 220 victories, as well as in the 4×110 yard relay. Moreover, he was on the cover of the May 1969 issue of Track and Field Magazine.

Post Career

In the 1970 NFL Draft, he was a 15th-round pick and attempted professional football, but a knee injury cut his tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. As a result, he went on to the Canadian Football League where he played one season for the Montreal Alouettes.

After retiring from football, Carlos worked with Pumas, the US Olympic Committee, the 1984 Summer Olympics Organizing Committee, and the City of Los Angeles. Moreover, he worked as a counsellor, suspension supervisor, and track & field coach at Palm Springs High School in California starting in 1985.

He carried the Human Rights Torch in April 2008, highlighting China’s human rights record and running alongside the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay.

John Carlos – Awards

In 2003, he was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame. In 2005, political artist Rigo 23 created a monument depicting Carlos and Smith on the medal stand and dedicated it to the campus of San Jose State University.

Caption: Sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos to Be Inducted Into Olympics Hall of Fame (Source: The Root)

On July 16, 2008, John Carlos and Tommie Smith received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for their tribute at the 2008 ESPY Awards, hosted at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles.

Net Worth 2024

Unfortunately, the official information regarding his income, salary, and income is missing on the internet. Moreover, he might have earned a decent sum of money. According to some online websites, his net worth is estimated at around $500k-$1 million.

Relationship Status

John Carlos has managed to keep a secret regarding his personal and love life private. As a result, there are no facts available concerning his marital status or children.

However, there are images of him with his family members on his Instagram profile, indicating that he is married and has children and grandchildren.


President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Avery Brundage ordered Smith and Carlos to be removed from the U.S. team and banned from the Olympic Village for their action. When the US Olympic Committee declined, Brundage threatened to suspend the whole US relay team. Due to the risk, the two athletes were removed from the games.

Body Measurements

Caption: John Carlos in a talk show program (Source: Instagram)

Carlos stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs around 85kg. Moreover, he has a pair of black eyes and has bald head.

John Carlos – Social Media

On his Instagram page ‘@johncarlos1968’ there are over 158k followers. Likewise, there are 325 followers on his Twitter page ‘@johncarlos1968’ and he is not present on Facebook.