|Major Taylor shaking hands with an opponent before a race in Paris|
Major Taylor won a 75 mile road race in central Indiana when he was 16. Due to racial barriers in Indiana, he soon moved to Massachusetts, where the population was more tolerant. In 1899 he became the first African-American world champion when he won the one mile race (Black Canadian boxer George Dixon had become world champion in 1890).
After his victory, Taylor was offered a large sum of money to race in Europe, but he turned it down because he would not race on Sunday. The promoters reworked the schedule so there was no Sunday racing, and Taylor agreed to race. In place of the racism he faced in America, he was hailed as a hero in Europe, especially in France. Major Taylor retired from bike racing in 1910. Life after racing was not kind to him. He made over $25,000 per year at the height of his career, but died penniless in 1932.