When Dennis Brutus heard the news, he was breaking stones on Robben Island, the notorious prison colony where Nelson Mandela, the freedom fighter and future South African president, occupied the cell next to his. The news was that the International Olympic Committee had suspended South Africa from the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
That signified a victory for Mr. Brutus, who led the fight to use sports as a weapon against the racist policies of South Africa. Ultimately, South Africa was barred from almost all international athletic competitions, including the Olympics, from 1964 to 1991.
Mr. Brutus paid a high price for his sports activism. Besides imprisonment, he was exiled and shot in the back. A poet, teacher and journalist, he was barred from earning a living except by menial labor. He died in Cape Town on Dec. 26 at the age of 85. His son Anthony told the South African Press Association, a news agency, that he had had prostate cancer.
There were many others from many countries who fought apartheid in sports, but Mr. Brutus helped ignite the fight, and his efforts led to big victories.
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