Charles Barkley: Golf pioneer, NBA legend and Tony Award winner

Charles Barkley played nine rounds of golf for a Caribbean gold medal

Although Tiger Woods is undoubtedly the first Black professional golfer who pushed for fair employment opportunities, Charles Barkley played a vital role in that pursuit.

Barkley, who died on Monday aged 62, won nine of a total of 15 games in men’s competition at the 1982 African American Golf Championships, becoming the first Black professional to feature in the event.

He was competing in his home town of Atlanta after the USA refused to host the tournament in 1986.

Barkley, who played nine rounds and was champion four times in black-only competitions before becoming a basketball star, was honoured with the Order of the Golf Order of Merit in May 2013.

Woods, 36, told ESPN: “Charles deserved to be one of the all-time greats of our sport.

“Without his vision, Nike and The Golf Channel would not be where they are today.

“We got to the point where he was saying things even the golf courses and PGA Tour wouldn’t touch, but by him voicing his opinions, they did.

“I’ve always said Charles is what drove me to be who I am, and without him there would be no Tiger Woods.”

Charles Barkley won 10 All-Star games

Media playback is not supported on this device Poised Charles Barkley on golf and freestyle

Barkley was the first black player invited to appear on an All-Star game – despite having only played golf for six years.

He became one of the biggest stars of basketball, winning an NBA title with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1996 and a Tony Award for best actor as boxer “Sweet Pea” Joe Vargas in the 1997 Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun.

He captained the US team at the 1994 World Cup – three years before Woods’s famous triumph in Australia – and took his record for consecutive road wins to 13 when he clinched the 1996 NCAA Championship at Georgia Tech.

He captured two more titles in the next three years and turned professional in 1986.

On Sunday Barkley, whose best round of 67 equalled the best in tournament history, was presented with a special commemorative golf ball at Muirfield Village Club in Ohio by Arnold Palmer, a club member.

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