Category: Athlete

Year of Induction: 2016




Known as ‘Rapid’ Ray, he was the first Canadian born black athlete to win an Olympic medal when, as a member of the 4 x 400m relay, the team earned bronze at the 1932 Olympics. He was also a member of Canada’s silver medal winning 4 x 440 yard relay at the 1934 British Empire Games (now the Commonwealth Games).


The great grandson of slaves Lewis was subjected to racism throughout his competitive days. He was remarkable in that for twenty two years he shined shoes and worked as a porter on Canadian Pacific Railways while pursuing his athletics career. He was often seen training alongside the railroad tracks when the trains were in the  stations.


McMaster’s Cross Country and Track teams hosted the inaugural Ray Lewis Relays. The meet attracted more than 500 high school athletes from the Halton and Wentworth Regions.


Ray Lewis was known as “Rapid” Ray. He was proud to be the first Canadian-born black athlete to win a bronze medal in the 4 x 400m relay at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.


Lewis was named an officer of the Order of Canada (2001) and had a Hamilton elementary school named after him in 2005.


“As someone whose favourite athlete is Jesse Owens I have to think about they had to go through in time of racial strife,” says Donovan Bailey. “A guy like Ray impressed me not just for his on-track exploits but, given how he was treated, how he had a high level of tolerance to face his competitors and do well and come back in a society that did not welcome him.”