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LOS ANGELES－Fifty years after raising clenched fists in protest during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, the shock waves unleashed by John Carlos and Tommie Smith's salute of defiance are still rippling around the sporting world.
The image of the African-American sprinters standing on the medal podium on Oct 16, 1968, heads bowed while each raised a solitary, leather-gloved fist into the night sky would become one of the most iconic images of the 20th century.
The protest redefined the concept of athlete activism as the stuffy, antiquated world of the Olympic movement under then-president Avery Brundage collided with the political and cultural maelstrom raging across the globe.
The United States had already been convulsed by the twin assassinations of Doctor Martin Luther King in April and the murder of presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy in June. In between the trauma of those events, deadly rioting erupted in Chicago.
Large-scale protests against the Vietnam War gained momentum throughout a year which also saw civil unrest in France as student-led demonstrations and general strikes plunged the country into chaos.
By the time of the Olympics, the febrile mood sweeping the world had reached Mexico City
Just days before the Games got under way, Mexican government forces crushed a protest by students and civilians. That crackdown set the stage for an Olympics that will forever be associated with Smith and Carlos's "Black Power" salute.
On the morning of Oct 16, Smith won the 200 meters in a then-world record of 19.83 sec, with Carlos taking bronze behind Australia's Peter Norman.
At the medal ceremony that evening, Smith and Carlos proceeded with their planned protest which had been hatched before the Olympics.
The repercussions for Smith and Carlos were severe.
Brundage, the International Olympic Committee's American President, demanded the duo be kicked out of the Games for what a spokesman decried as "a violent breach" of the Olympic spirit.
Within two days, the United States Olympic Committee had bowed to an IOC demand that Smith and Carlos be sent home, where they were greeted by opprobrium including death threats.
Carlos blames the 1977 suicide of his wife Kim on the turbulent aftermath of the controversy, calling it the "greatest sadness" of his life.
As Smith and Carlos grappled with the consequences of their protest, the rest of the sports world was also fundamentally altered.
Dave Zirin, the sports editor of The Nation magazine and author of The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World, said the recent activism of athletes such as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was linked directly to Carlos and Smith.
"So many athletes cite 1968 as their touchstone, to say 'Hey, it's happened before, this is our legacy as protesting athletes, and we're not giving up that legacy,'" he said.
"So when you see athletes standing on the sideline raising a fist, they're doing it because of the connection to Tommie Smith and John Carlos."