US & Canada

Cheerleading world mourns 'founder' Lawrence Herkimer

Cleveland Cavaliers cheerleaders perform in June 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lawrence Herkimer patented the pom-pom, which would go on to become a key component of cheerleading

Tributes have been paid to the founder of modern cheerleading who has died at the age of 89.

Lawrence Herkimer, known as "Herkie", built a successful business by setting up cheerleading camps and developing equipment - including the pom-pom.

Cheerleaders have been posting photographs of themselves performing his signature jump - the Herkie - on social media.

He died of heart failure on Wednesday, according to the New York Times.

Mr Herkimer formed a national organisation for cheerleading and a dedicated magazine while studying at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

After graduating in 1948, he reportedly borrowed $600 from a friend of his father-in-law's to begin his business in the family garage.

His first camp attracted 52 girls and one boy. The following year, it drew 350 participants.

He also patented the pom-pom, which would go on to become a key component of cheerleading, and is credited with inventing the spirit stick.

The organisation he founded, the National Cheerleading Association, said it was "deeply saddened by the loss of a legend".

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