History of uni basketball ?

Looking for a bit of information about unicycle basketball : first teams, first championships… if your grandfather has a clue, let me know !

Unicycle basketball probably goes way back. I don’t know if there is documentation on early players or not. I know of a group of unicycle hockey players from the early 1960s for instance (in Kansas).

Charles King was probably one of the early promoters of this activity. I don’t know the details of his story, but I believe he was a dad or a coach of a neighborhood group of riders in Harlem or the South Bronx, probably also in the early to mid 1960s. From this neighborhood group emerged the King Charles Troupe, a performing group of unicycle basketball players. They were in the Ringling Bros. circus for many years, starting in the 70s. I remember reading of them being touted as the world’s first (though circus hype can be notoriously inaccurate) all-black circus troupe. I find this doubtful if there are circuses in places like Africa, but they may have been claiming America’s.

There was another group, called the World Wheelers. Unlike the King Charles Troupe, who did a basketball-oriented performance, the World Wheelers would entertain by playing actual basketball games on unicycles. I met their manager, Larry Steele, in 1982. I never saw a World Wheelers performance though. Larry later gained some notoriety in the unicycling world when he tried to take legal ownership of the word “uniball.” This was the word he used to describe their basketball games played on unicycles, or perhaps for any game played on unicycles.

So he took the Faber Castell company to court (don’t know if it actually made it to court) in the late 1980s because of their “evil” Uniball pens. I think it was a roundabout way to try to get sponsorship or fund a tour. In any case, the IUF got some letters from his lawyers in the late 80s to the effect that we should never use the word “uniball” (in our Unicycling Magazine or other publications) unless it was associated with activities or events run by Larry Steele Productions. Something like that.

Anyway, today uniball is a pen.

We have played basketball at the USA unicycling conventions for many years, but I don’t know when it was first done. I have vivid memories of a basketball game at the 1980 Nationals, which was the first one I attended. I think it was raining outside at the time, so the game drew a big crowd in the gym.

Unicycle basketball competitions have been a part of every IUF Unicon since the first one, in 1984. The Puerto Rico All Stars have won it just about every time, but not all. There were only three guys from PR at the first Unicon, for instance, and the winning team was the Coneheads, with the [Sem] Abrahams brothers and others on the team.

Thanks, John, for the information.
Does anybody else has some memories ?