From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Wilton Norman "Wilt" Chamberlain (August 21, 1936 – October 12, 1999) was an American sports person.
After his basketball career, Wilt Chamberlain played volleyball in the short-lived International Volleyball Association, was president of this organization and enshrined in the IVA Hall of Fame for his contributions. Chamberlain was also a successful businessman, authored several books and appeared in the movie Conan the Destroyer. He was a lifelong bachelor, but became notorious for his claim to have had sex with 20,000 women, a statement which has entered popular culture.
Love life and "20,000 women" claim
Although shy and insecure as a teenager, adult Chamberlain became well-known for his womanizing. As his lawyer Seymour "Sy" Goldberg put it: "Some people collect stamps, Wilt collected women." Swedish Olympic high jumper Annette Tånnander, who met him when he was 40 and she 19, remembers him as a bona fide pick-up artist who was extremely confident yet respectful: "I think Wilt fucked everything that moved...[but] he never was bad or rude." Many of Chamberlain's personal friends testified he had a "magnetic personality", once had 23 women in 10 days, had no problems organizing a threesome (or more), and particularly enjoyed a TV skit on the show In Living Color in which a mother and her daughter approach a Vietnam Wall-like list of women who slept with him, both of them pointing out that their names are on it, as well as a 1991 Saturday Night Live sketch where MC Hammer played Chamberlain in "Remembrances of Love", where Chamberlain spoofs a soap opera with romances with women that are usually over in five minutes. However, Los Angeles Times columnist David Shaw claimed that during a dinner with Shaw and his wife, Chamberlain was “rude and sexist toward his own date, as he usually was,” adding that at one point Chamberlain left the table to get the phone number of an attractive woman at a nearby table.
In 1991, Chamberlain wrote his second autobiography, A View from Above. There, the lifelong bachelor claimed he had sex with 20,000 women. For this to be true, he would have had to have had sex with 1.14 women per day from the age of 15 up until the day of his death, a rate of almost eight women a week. (One jokester asked if that number was "regular season only, or does that include the playoffs?") Quickly, he became target for jokes and jibes, and fellow African-American tennis superstar Arthur Ashe was highly critical, blasting Chamberlain for embarrassing black men and fueling prejudices about their sexual behavior. Chamberlain defended himself: "I was just doing what was natural—chasing good-looking ladies, whoever they were and wherever they were available" and pointed out he never started a relationship with a married woman. In a 1999 interview shortly before his death, Chamberlain regretted not explaining the sexual climate at the time of his escapades, and warned other men who admired him for it, closing with the words: "With all of you men out there who think that having a thousand different ladies is pretty cool, I have learned in my life I've found out that having one woman a thousand different times is much more satisfying." Chamberlain also acknowledged he never came close to marrying, and had no intention of raising any children.
Cherry believes that Chamberlain's extreme sex drive was fueled from the female rejection he had experienced as a teenager, causing him to overcompensate. Although his life was highly promiscuous, his lifelong friend and on-and-off girlfriend Lynda Huey, eleven years his junior, said: "He had an inability of combining friendship and sexuality." Shaw added: "Wilt never liked to admit a weakness...[but] you cannot be married and be Superman...you cannot appear invulnerable to your mate."