Ralph Metcalfe (May 30, 1910 - October 10, 1978) was an American athlete who jointly held the world record for the 100 metre sprint. Ralph Metcalfe was known as the worldâ€™s fastest human from 1932 through 1934.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Metcalfe studied at Marquette University and equalled the record of 10.3 seconds on a number of occasions, as well as equalling the 200 metre record of 20.6 seconds. At the 1932 Summer Olympics he virtually dead-heated with his rival Eddie Tolan, with the medal awarded to Tolan only after extended study of the photograph. Both recorded a time of 10.38 seconds. He received a bronze medal in the 200 metre event at these games. Metcalfe competed again in the 200 metres at the 1936 Summer Olympics, placing second to the great Jesse Owens. He received a gold medal as part of the winning 4x100 relay team.
Metcalfe completed a master's degree at the University of Southern California. After his college career, he joined the armed forces and served in World War II. Metcalfe later coached track at Xavier University of Louisiana before becoming a successful businessman in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1949, Metcalfe became a politician, first as an Alderman for the city of Chicago; then as a Democrat representing a district in Illinois in the United States House of Representatives from 1971 until his death in 1978. He was a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
In 1975, Metcalfe was inducted into the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame (USATF) and named a member of the President's Commission on Olympic Sports.
The federal building at 77 W. Jackson in Chicago was named for Metcalfe when it was dedicated in 1991.
Metcalfe was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.