In the past, I’ve talked about why the races differ—at the extremes—(and the general population, but the extremes put the picture into focus) in terms of what sports they compete and do best in. These differences come down to morphology somatype, physiology. People readily admit racial differences in sports and—rightly say—that these differences are largely genetic in nature. Why is it easier for people to accept racial differences in sports and not accept other truisms, like racial IQ differences?
I’ve muscle fiber typing and how the variances in fiber typing dictate which race/ethny performs best at which sport. I’ve also further evidence that blacks have type II fibers (responsible for explosive power), which leads to a reduced Vo2 max. This lends yet more credence to my theory of racial differences in sports—black Americans (West African descendants) have the fiber typing that is associated with explosive power, less so with endurance activities. Since I’ve documented evidence on the differences in sports such as baseball, football, swimming and jumping, bodybuilding, and finally strength sports, tonight I will talk about the evolutionary reasons for muscle fiber and somatype differences that will have us better understand the evolutionary conditions in which these traits evolved and why they got selected for.
Most WSM winners are from Nordic countries or have Nordic ancestry. There’s a higher amount of slow twitch fibers in Nordics and East Asians (and Kenyans) which is more conducive to strength and less conducive to ‘explosive’ sports. West Africans and their descendants dominate in sprinting competitions. Yea yea yea white guy won in 1960. So they will be less likely to be in strength comps and more likely to win BBing and physique comps. This is what we see.
Only three African countries have placed in the top ten in the WSM (Kenya, Namibia, and Nigeria, however, one competitor from Namibia I was able to find has European ancestry). Here is a video of a Nigerian Strongest Man competition (notice how his chest isn’t up and his hips rise before the bar reaches his knees, horrible form). Fadesere Oluwatofunmi is Nigeria’s Strongest Man, competing in the prestigious Arnold Classic, representing Nigeria. However, men such as Fadesere Olutaofunmi are outliers.
Now for a brief primer on muscle fibers and which pathways they fire through. Understanding this aspect of the human body is paramount to understanding how and why the races differ in elite competition.
Life history and muscle fiber typing
Slow twitch fibers fire through aerobic pathways. Breaking down fats and proteins takes longer through aerobic respiration. Moreover, in cold temperatures, the body switches from burning fat to burning carbohydrates for energy, which will be broken down slower due to the aerobic perspiration. Slow twitch (Type I) fibers fire through aerobic pathways and don’t tire nearly as quickly as type II fibers. Also, CHO reserves will be used more in cold weather. The body’s ability to use oxygen decreases in cold weather as well, so having slow twitch fibers is ideal (think about evolution thousands of years ago). Type I fibers fire off slower so they’ll be able to be more active for a longer period of time (studies have shown that Africans with Type II fibers hit a ‘wall’ after 40 seconds of explosive activity, which is why there are so few West-African descended marathon runners, powerlifters, Strongmen, etc). Those who possess these traits will have a higher chance to survive in these environments. Those with slow twitch fibers also have to use more oxygen. They have larger blood vessels, more mitochondria and higher concentrations of myoglobin which gives the muscles its reddish color.
Each fiber fires off through different pathways, whether they be anaerobic or aerobic. The body uses two types of energy systems, aerobic or anaerobic, which then generate Adenosine Triphosphate, better known as ATP, which causes the muscles to contract or relax. Depending on the type of fibers an individual has dictates which pathway muscles use to contract which then, ultimately, dictate if there is high muscular endurance or if the fibers will fire off faster for more speed.
Type I fibers lead to more strength and muscular endurance as they are slow to fire off, while Type II fibers fire quicker and tire faster. Slow twitch fibers use oxygen more efficiently, while fast twitch fibers do not burn oxygen to create energy. Slow twitch muscles delay firing which is why the endurance is so high in individuals with these fibers whereas for those with fast twitch fibers have their muscles fire more explosively. Slow twitch fibers don’t tire as easily while fast twitch fibers tire quickly. This is why West Africans and their descendants dominate in sprinting and other competitions where fast twitch muscle fibers dominate in comparison to slow twitch.
Paleolithic Europeans who had more stamina spread more of their genes to the next generation as their genotype was conducive to reproductive success in Ice Age Europe. Conversely in Africa, those who could get away from predators and could hunt prey more efficiently survived. Over time, frequencies of genes related to what needed to be done to survive in those environments increased, along with the frequencies of muscle fibers in the races.
Racial differences in anatomy and physiology
Along with muscle fiber differences, blacks and whites also have differences in fat-free body mass, bone density, distribution of subcutaneous fat, length of limbs relative to the trunk, and body protein contents (Wagner and Heyward, 2000). These differences are noticed and talked about in the scientific literature, even in University biology and anatomy textbooks. However, in terms of University textbooks, authors who recognize the concept of race do so in spite of what other authors write (Hallinan, 1994). Furthermore, Strkalj and Solyali (2010) analyzed 18 English textbooks on anatomy and concluded that discussion of race was ‘superficial’ and the content ‘outdated’, i.e., using the ‘Mongoloid, Caucasoid, Negroid terminology (I still do out of habit). They conclude that most mentions of race are either not mentioned in anatomy textbooks or are only ‘superficially accounted for in textbooks’. Clearly, though they are outdated, some textbooks do talk about human biological diversity, though the information needs to be updated (especially now). The center of mass in blacks is 3 percent higher than in whites, meaning whites have a 1.5 percent speed advantage in swimming while blacks have a 1.5 percent speed difference in sprinting. East Asians that are the same height as whites are even more favored in swimming, however, they are shorter on average so that’s why they do not set world records (Bejan, Jones, and Charles, 2010).
For another hand grip strength (HGP) test, see Leong et al (2016). Most studies on HGS are done on Caucasian populations with little data for non-Caucasoid populations. They found that HGS values were higher for North America and Europe, intermediate in China, South America and the Middle East, and the lowest in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. These are, most likely, average Joes and not elite BBers or strength trainers. This is one of the best papers I’ve come across on this matter (though I would kill to have a nice study done on the three classical races and their performance on the Big 3 lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift; I’m positive it would be Asian/white and blacks as the tail end).
Among other physical differences is brain size and hip width. Blacks have narrower hips than whites who have narrower hips than Asians (Rushton, 1997: 163). Bigger-brained babes are more than likely born to women who have wider hips. If you think about athletic competition, one with wide hips will get decimated by one with narrower hips as he will be better able to move. People with big crania, in turn, have the hip structure to birth big brains. This causes further division between racial groupings in sports competition.
Some people may dispute a genetic causation and attribute the success of, say, Kenyan marathoners (the Kalenjin people) and attribute the effects to the immediate environment (not ancestral), training and willpower (see here for discussion). This Kenyan subpopulation also has the morphology conducive to success in marathons (tall and lengthy), as well as type II muscle fibers (which is why Kenya placed in the WSM).
I would also like to see a study of men in their prime (age 21 to 24) from European, Africans, and East Asian backgrounds with a high n (for a study like this it’d be 20 to 30 participants for each race), with good controls. You’d see, in my opinion, East Asians slightly nudge out whites who destroy blacks. The opposite would occur in sports that use type II fibers. West Africans also have the gene variant ACTN3 which is associated with explosive sports.
For a better (less ethical study) we can use a thought experiment.
We take two babes fresh out of the womb (one European, the other West African) and keep them locked in a metabolic chamber for their whole entire lives. We keep them in the chamber until they die and monitor them, feeding them the same exact diet and giving them the same amount of attention. They start training at age 15. Who will be stronger in their prime (the European man)? Who will have more explosive power (the West African man)? A simple thought experiment can have one thinking about intrinsic racial differences in things the average American watches in their everyday lives. The subject of racial differences in sports is a non-taboo subject, however, the subject of racial differences in intelligence is a big no-no.
Think about that for a second. People obviously accept racial differences in sports, yet they have some kind of emotional attachment to the blank slate narrative. We don’t hear that you can nurture athletic success. We do, however, hear that ‘we can succeed at anything we put out minds to’. That’s not in dispute; that’s a fact. But it’s twisted in a way that genetics and ancestry has no bearing on it, when it explains a lot of the variance. People accept racial differences when they’re cheering on their favorite football team or basketball team. For instance, NFL announcer Gus Johnson said during a broadcast of a Titans and Jaguars game “He’s [Chris Johnson] got gettin’ away from the cops speed!”
Pro-sports announcers, as well as college recruiters, know what the average person doesn’t who is not exposed to these differences daily for decades on end. People in these types of professions, especially collegiate sports recruiters, must get the low-down on average racial differences and then use what they know to make their choices on who to draft for their team.
For more (anecdotal) evidence, you can look up the race/ethnicity of the winners in competitions where peoples from all over the world compete in. More West African descendants place higher in physique, BBing comps, etc; more Caucasians and East Asians (and Kenyans) place higher in strength comps. A white man has won the WSM every year since its inception. West African descended blacks dominate BBing and physique comps. Eurasians (and Kenyans) dominate in marathon running.
All of this talk of racial differences in sports (which largely has to do with whites vs. blacks, though Asians are included in my overall analysis), I’ve hardly cited anything on East Asians directly. In regards to sports that take extreme dexterity or flexibility (and high reaction), East Asians shine. They shine in diving, ping-pong, skating and gymnastics events. They usually have long torsos and small limbs. I theorize that this was an evolutionary adaptation for the East Asians, as shorter people have less surface area to keep warm. Taller people would have died out quicker than one who’s smaller and can cover up and get warmer faster. They also have quicker reaction times (Rushton and Jensen, 2005) and it has been hypothesized that this is why they dominate in ping pong.
We don’t need any tests to show that there are racial differences in sports; the test is the competition itself. On average, A white will be stronger than an Asian who will be stronger than a black. Conversely, a Kenyan will be a better marathoner than a West African, European or Asian. West Africans will be more likely to beat all three groups in a sprint. These differences come down to morphology, but they start inside the muscles with the muscle fibers. Some anatomy textbooks acknowledge the existence of race, however, they have old and outdated information. It’s a good thing that anatomy textbooks talk about racial differences in physiology and anatomy, now we need to start doing heavy research into racial differences in the brain. The races evolved their fiber typing depending on what they had to do to survive along with their immediate environment, i.e., high elevation like the Kalenjin people.
The evolution of differing muscle fiber types in different races is easily explainable: Europeans have slow twitch fibers. In cold temperatures, the body switches from burning fat to burning carbs for energy. Furthermore, the average person would need to have a higher lung capacity and not tire out during long hunts on megafauna. Over time, selection occurred on the individuals with more type I fibers. Conversely, West Africans and their descendants have the ACTN3 gene, which is associated with elite human athletic performance (Yang et al, 2003). Africans who could get away from predators survived and passed on the genes and fiber typing for elite athletic performance.
In sum, the races differ in terms of entrants to elite athletic competition. These differences are largely genetic in nature. Evolutionary processes explain racial differences in sports. These same selection processes that explain racial differences in elite sports competitions also explain racial differences in intelligence. I await the day that we can freely speak about racial differences in intelligence just like we speak about racial differences in sports. Denying human variation makes no sense, especially in today’s world where we have state of the art testing.