Jon Entine, Taboo, and Black Athletes - The Boston Marathon
It's been 15 years since Taboo was published. Let's analyze how accurate Entine's analysis and predictions came about. While some of his Sailer-esqe sensationalized pseudo-science and pseudo-journalism have relevant facts, there is always a cloud of doubt, and critical facts refuting their ideas are often omitted.
I'll cover three sports that the book Taboo analyses in depth: The Boston Marathon, Basketball, and Football. First is the Boston Marathon.
Taboo mentions East Africans, such as from Kenya and Ethiopia, are genetically gifted with slow twitch muscles which give them genetic superiority in long distance marathon running. Look at the history of Boston Marathon winners - East Africans from Kenya and Ethiopia have mostly won the first place spot since 1991 for Men's and 1997 for Women's.
Winning the Boston Marathon is an impressive feat. It is a 26.2 mile course and the Men's winners complete the course in a little over two hours. To run a marathon in 2 hours and 11 minutes, you would have to run at a consistent pace of 5 minutes per mile throughout the whole marathon with no breaks.
Jon Entine would like to make it seem East Africans have a astronomically dominant genetic advantage in the marathon, which makes other races genetically incapable of competing or beating East Africans in the marathon. After all, the odds of a Kenyan winning the Men's Boston Marathon from 1991 to 2000 (Taboo was published in 2000) is some astronomical, outrageous figure of many millions times billions to one.
A more realistic analysis into the Boston Marathon shows quite a lot of absurd overexaggerations by Jon Entine. If you look at the Kenyan winners of the Boston Marathon, many of them are repeat winners who have won multiple years. Most of the Kenyan have won first place at least twice, and Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot from Kenya won five times.
Can other races compete with or even beat East Africans in the marathon? Yes. Just one year after Taboo was published, Lee Bong-Ju from South Korea won the Boston Marathon in 2001. The Men's Kenyan Boston Marathon winners have times from an all time best 2:03:02 to 2:12:40. Here are Boston Marathon winners outside of East Africa since 1980 who have ran the time in the Kenyan winners' time range.
- 1980 - Bill Rodgers - United States (MA) - 2:12:11
- 1981 - Toshihiko Seko - Japan - 2:09:26
- 1982 - Alberto Salazar - United States (MA) - 2:08:52
- 1983 - Greg Meyer - United States (MI) - 2:09:00
- 1984 - Geoff Smith - United Kingdom - 2:10:34
- 1986 - Robert de Castella - Australia - 2:07:51
- 1987 - Toshihiko Seko - Japan - 2:11:50
- 1990 - Gelindo Bordin - Italy - 2:08:19
- 2001 - Lee Bong-Ju - South Korea - 2:09:43
- 1) Meb Keflezighi - United States - 2:08:37
- 2) Wilson Chebet - Kenya - 2:08:48
- 3) Franklin Chepkwony - Kenya - 2:08:50
- 4) Vitaliy Shafar - Ukraine - 2:09:37
- 5) Markos Geneti - Ethiopia - 2:09:50
- 6) Joel Kimurer - Kenya - 2:11:03
- 7) Nicholas Arciniaga - United States - 2:11:47
- 8) Jeffrey Eggleston - United States - 2:11:57
- 9) Paul Lonyangata - Kenya - 2:12:34
- 10) Adil Annani - Morocco - 2:12:43