Sim Iness
Sim Iness
  • Previous College:
    Compton

Bio

Sim Iness, the second of five children born to Oklahoma sharecroppers, was born in 1930 in the small town of Keota, Oklahoma. Falling on hard times during the precursor to the Dust Bowl, the Iness' migrated west in search of a better life in the land "flowing with milk and honey," California. Riding in the back of a dilapidated Model A truck loaded with mattresses, the Inessss settled in the agricultural heartland of California's San Joaquin Valley and the town of Tulare.

Working on countless farms and in labor camps throughout his entire childhood and teenage years, Sim Iness was first able to use athletics as an escape from a hard day's labor. As a sophomore in high school, he began participating in football and both the shot put and discus events for track and field. The idea of college never being set in his sights due to his family's finances, Sim, with the help and inspiration of his high school coach, poured his heart and soul into being the best discus thrower that he could be.
Sim was able to pursue his education by attending college due to the generosity of the people of Tulare who set up a scholarship fund in his name. Sim attended Compton Community College where he won the National Junior College discus championship in 1949 and he was also a member of the winning Compton football squad who won the Junior Rose Bowl becoming National Junior College Champions in 1948. Sim transferred to the University of Southern California where he honed his discus skills; eventually setting every meet, school, junior collegiate, American and National collegiate record possible including the NCAA discuss championship in 1952 and 1953.
In 1952 Sim secured a spot on the United States Olympic Team, along with hometown friend and teammate Bob Mathias. At the XVth Olympiad, held in Helsinki, Finland; Sim, ever the underdog and not favored to place at all, smashed the existing Olympic Record on his first throw, and continued to do so throughout the remainder of the competition. Sim walked away not only with the Olympic Record, but with the gold medal as well, beginning a 20 year reign of U.S. Discus gold medalists in the Olympics. A year after the Olympics Sim raised the bar even further by setting the World Record, being the first person ever to eclipse the 190' barrier. 
After temporarily dropping out of college in order to support a wife and a newborn daughter, Sim graduated from USC with a Bachelors Degree in Physical Education. Truly idolizing his high school track coach Virgil Jackson, Sim began his lifelong pursuit as an educator and quietly moved back to his home roots of the San Joaquin Valley, settling in the city of Porterville. First teaching and coaching at Porterville High School, Sim later moved to Porterville College where he served as a teacher, coach, and counselor. Remaining humble throughout his entire life, when he retired in 1994 after 40 years as an educator, it was a fact that many of his students throughout his career were not even aware that the man who was teaching them was in fact an Olympic gold medalist.

Sim is a member of the Tulare High School Redskin Hall of Fame, the Northern California Track and Field Hall of Fame, the International World Throwers Congress Hall of Fame, the University of Southern California Athletic Hall of Fame and the Tartar Athletics Hall of Fame. He summed it all up when he said I have a lot of empathy for people stuck in poverty. But I also know itts possible to escape. I had goals and I worked hard to achieve them. If a little barefoot Okie in overalls could do it, then maybe all things are possible!!
Sim Iness passed away in Porterville, California in 1996, leaving behind a life full of memories to all those he met, as well as a void in society and the true meaning of an athlete, educator, mentor, and gentleman.