Jesse Owens was born on September 12, 1913 in Oakville, Alabama. When he was nine years old, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio as a part of the Great Migration. Owens did odd jobs in his youth to support his family. He worked in a shoe repair shop, loaded freight cars and also delivered groceries. He soon realized that he had the passion for running. He attributes the success in his career to Charles Riley, his junior high school track coach.
As Owens used to work in a shoe repair shop after his school finished, Riley allowed Owens to practice before school hours. Riley had already recognised the talent that was lying dormant in this skinny tall lad. Soon the nation took notice of Owen’s talent when he equalled the World Record of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard dash (91 m) when he was in high school itself.