When Olympic boxing champions meet for the World Heavyweight Championships

On the 30th of October 1974 George Foreman, the reigning professional heavyweight boxing champion of the world, stepped into a ring in Kinshasa, Zaire to defend his title against former champion Muhammad Ali. What happened next has entered sporting folklore as arguably the most famous fight of all time, the Rumble in the Jungle.

Ali-Foreman

But of course as this is a blog concerning the Olympic Games we’ll choose to dwell on another aspect of the match – that of it being one of the rare instances where two Olympic champions have fought each other for the World Heavyweight title. Boxing became an Olympic sport in 1904 and, with the exception of 1912, has remained in the Games ever since but in that span of 110 years only ten times have two Olympic champions met for what is regularly described as “the greatest prize in professional sport”.

So when exactly has this happened? The answer is below. The list is restricted to generally accepted versions of the titles. Of the 10 instances documented, 6 involve Muhammad Ali.

#1 22/8/1957 Floyd Patterson KO 6 Pete Rademacher
Floyd Patterson, the champion at middleweight in Helsinki in 1952 at just 17, became the youngest ever heavyweight champion whilst still only 21. As many of the leading contenders for the title were under the control of the International Boxing Club of New York (which had links to organised crime) Patterson’s handlers shied from fighting them and were inventive in choosing opponents.
Pete Rademacher had won the heavyweight gold medal at the Melbourne Games nine months before he faced Patterson for the title and, amazingly, this was to be his professional debut. Rademacher started well, winning the first round then putting Patterson on the canvas in the second but Patterson recovered and battered his way to an emphatic six round victory.

#2 22/11/1965 Muhammad Ali TKO 12 Floyd Patterson
Patterson, having lost his world title via a crushing defeat to Sonny Liston had rebounded well enough to earn a shot at Muhammad Ali, who as Cassius Clay, had won the Olympic light-heavyweight title in 1960. Patterson injured his back in training but refused to pull out of the fight. Accepted history records that Ali “mocked, humiliated and punished Patterson throughout before knocking him out in the 12th round” but an interview with Ali conducted post-fight revealed that Ali, knowing Floyd was in serious pain through his injury, backed off and waited for the fight to be stopped or for Patterson to retire.

#3 8/3/1971 Joe Frazier Pts 15 Muhammad Ali
“The Fight of the Century”, as it was called, pitted Ali, who was back in the ring after being stripped of his belt and suspended after refusing the draft, with the 1964 Olympic heavyweight champion, “Smokin’” Joe Frazier. It was a fight that lived up to the hype as the two men traded blow for blow before a celebrity studded Madison Square Garden crowd. Frazier scored a knockdown in the final round to seal victory.

Ali-Frazier I

#4 22/1/1973 George Foreman TKO 2 Joe Frazier
Kingston, Jamaica saw the “Immovable Object”, reigning heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, go head to head with the “Irresistible Force” in the shape of 1968 Olympic heavyweight champion George Foreman. Unfortunately for him, Frazier proved all too movable and mostly in the downwards direction. The champion was sent to the canvas six times before the referee proclaimed Foreman the winner. In American television this fight was famous for Howard Cosell, announcing it, who kept proclaiming, after each knockdown, “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”. This was the 1st time two Olympic heavyweight champions had met for the professional heavyweight title.

#5 30/10/1974 Muhammad Ali KO 8 George Foreman
This is where we came in. In the unlikely setting of a football stadium in downtown Kinshasa, Zaire, one of the famous events not just in boxing but in all sports, took place. Foreman, considered a monster of the ring, was the clear favourite against the older Ali but after dominating the early exchanges he ran out of steam and Ali took advantage to record a stunning knockout victory. 40 years later it remains a landmark in sporting history.

#6 1/10/1975 Muhammad Ali TKO 14 Joe Frazier
Ali and Frazier had fought a rematch in 1974 with Ali gaining revenge via a unanimous points decision. After Ali regained the heavyweight title later that year it became inevitable that a third match between the two would take place. The fight would take place in Manila in October 1975 and is widely considered to be one of the best, and certainly most brutal, bouts in history. In the 14th round, with both men nearing the point of total exhaustion, Ali unleashed a devastating series of punches which led to Frazier retiring in his corner between rounds. Neither man was ever the same again. The two men had been mutually antagonistic throughout their careers but after the fight Ali commented – “Fighting Joe Frazier is the closest to death I can ever imagine. If I’m ever called to a Holy War I want Joe Frazier fighting besides me.”


#7 15/2/1978 Leon Spinks Pts 15 Muhammad Ali
#8 15/9/1978 Muhammad Ali Pts 15 Leon Spinks

Now in the twilight of his career, Ali arranged what seemed like a routine defence against the 1976 Olympic light-heavyweight champion Leon Spinks. In the first meeting Spinks turned up fit and hungry and in only his 8th professional fight used his youth and fitness to finish strongly and win a split decision victory over a subdued and listless Ali. Seven months later and the tide had turned in the favour of the old champion. Spinks, by then in the early stages of drink and drug dependency, was easily outpointed by a better prepared Ali.

Ali-Spinks II

#9 16/3/2002 Wladimir Klitscho TKO 6 Ray Mercer
After a gap of 23 years two Olympic champions stepped into the ring to battle for the heavyweight title once again in 2002. The occasion was a defence of the WBO title by Ukrainian Wladimir Klitscho, the 1996 Olympic super-heavyweight gold medal winner, against Ray Mercer, winner of the Olympic title at heavyweight back in 1988. The 41 year old Mercer was expected to be little more than a sacrificial victim for the younger man and that’s exactly how it turned out. The referee stepped in to protect Mercer from further punishment in round 6.

#10 5/10/2013 Wladimir Klitscho Pts 12 Aleksandr Povetkin
The bout matched Wladimir Klitscho, who held the IBF and WBO world titles as well as the WBA “Super-World” title with Alexander Povetkin of Russia who merely held the WBA “regular” World Heavyweight title (confusing, but that’s modern professional boxing…). Anyone who’s ever read a comic book will tell you that Superman always beat Regularman and that is exactly what happened in their bout in Moscow. Klitschko won every round and knocked his opponent down four times on his way to a totally one sided victory. He continues to be the best heavyweight in the world to this day.

Klitschko-Povetkin

Teófilo Stevenson

Boxer, multiple gold medalist, Cuban hero, greatest ever Olympic heavyweight

Category Data
Full Name Teófilo Stevenson Laurence
Used Name Teófilo Stevenson
Nicknames Pirolo
Born 29 March 1952; Puerto Padre (CUB)
Died 11 June 2012; La Habana (Havana) (CUB)
Measurements 190 cm / 95 kg
Medals Number
Gold 3
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 3
Year-Games Sport Event Place Medal
1972 Summer Boxing Heavyweight 1 Gold
1976 Summer Boxing Heavyweight 1 Gold
1980 Summer Boxing Heavyweight 1 Gold

It is safe to describe Téofilo Stevenson as the greatest heavyweight boxer never to be the world’s professional champion. In fact, Stevenson never even fought for the title because he never turned professional. Stevenson’s first international appearance was in 1971 at the Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia, where he lost a decision in the semi-finals to the United States’ Duane Bobick and took bronze.

In 1972 at München, Stevenson won a re-match with Bobick en route to winning his first Olympic gold medal, for which he was awarded the Val Barker Trophy as the top boxer at the Olympics. Stevenson also won the Olympic heavyweight gold medal in 1976 and 1980, making him one of only three men to win three Olympic boxing gold medals (Hungary’s László Papp and Félix Savón are the others). In addition, Stevenson won golds at the 1975 and 1979 Pan American Games, and was world amateur champion in 1974, 1978, and 1986.

It is likely that Stevenson would have won a fourth Olympic gold medal at Los Angeles, had the Cubans not boycotted the 1984 Olympics. American professional boxing promoters coveted Stevenson’s talent, his good looks, and body-builder like body. He was offered $5 million by professional promoters to fight Muhammad Ali, but never fought professionally. But he refused all entreaties to turn professional and remained an amateur to continue boxing for the honor of his country.

Bill Stevenson

Military hero, Rhodes Scholar, Gold Medalist, US Ambassador

Category Data
Full Name William Edwards "Bill" Stevenson
Used Name Bill Stevenson
Born 25 October 1900; Chicago (IL) (USA)
Died 2 April 1985; Fort Myers (FL) (USA)
Measurements 183 cm / 77 kg
Affiliations New York Athletic Club
Year-Games Sport Event Place Medal
1924 Summer Athletics 4 × 400 metres Relay 1 Gold

After leaving Phillips Andover Academy, Bill Stevenson served in the Marine Corps, winning the Bronze Star, and then entered Princeton in 1920. The following year he was ranked as the top quarter-miler in America and won the AAU 440y in 48.6, which proved to be the best time of his career. Later in the season he beat the reigning Olympic champion, Bevil Rudd, in the dual meet between Princeton/Cornell and Oxford/ Cambridge.

In 1923, Stevenson went to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and placed second in the match against Cambridge before winning the British title. In the Olympic year he had a poor start to the season, finishing only third in the match against Cambridge and in the British championships, but he fully justified his selection for the Olympic relay team by turning a 2-meter deficit into a 5-meter advantage on the second leg. In 1925, his last year at Oxford, Stevenson finally won the quarter-mile against Cambridge and he closed his career back on American tracks with victories for the combined Oxford/Cambridge team against teams from Harvard/ Yale and Princeton/Cornell.

Bill Stevenson, who also represented Oxford at lacrosse, was admitted as a barrister-at-law in England in 1925 and in 1927 he became a member of the New York Bar. He eventually became a partner in the law firm of Deboise, Stevenson, Plimpton & Tage, and from 1946 until 1959 he served as president of Oberlin College. He also held numerous civic and government posts, the most distinguished of these being his appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines from 1961 to 1964.

Personal Best: 400 – 48.3y (1921).

Medals In Every Event Entered

We looked earlier at Olympians who won every event they entered at the Olympics – see “The Undefeated Olympians” from 25 June 2014. But what about those Olympians who may not have won a gold medal in every event, but still won a medal in every Olympic event they entered? How many of those have there been?

Well, that number is pretty big, but let’s look at those Olympians who entered the most events and still won medals in all of them. Here is the list for the Summer Olympics, including all those winning medals in 6 or more events:

Name Gdr NOC Sport G S B TM
Paavo Nurmi M FIN ATH 9 3 0 12
Natalie Coughlin F USA SWI 3 4 5 12
Ray Ewry M USA ATH 10 0 0 10
Carl Lewis M USA ATH 9 1 0 10
Gary Hall Jr. M USA SWI 5 3 2 10
Valentina Vezzali F ITA FEN 6 1 2 9
Zoltán von Halmay M HUN SWI 3 5 1 9
Isabell Werth F GER EQU 5 3 0 8
Kornelia Ender F GDR SWI 4 4 0 8
Aaron Peirsol M USA SWI 5 2 0 7
Tom Jager M USA SWI 5 1 1 7
Mariya Gorokhovskaya F URS GYM 2 5 0 7
Rudolf Kárpáti M HUN FEN 6 0 0 6
Kristin Otto F GDR SWI 6 0 0 6
Steven Redgrave M GBR ROW 5 0 1 6
Lucien Gaudin M FRA FEN 4 2 0 6
Matt Grevers M USA SWI 4 2 0 6
Kim Su-Nyeong F KOR ARC 4 1 1 6
Wu Minxia F CHN DIV 4 1 1 6
Viktor Sidyak M URS FEN 4 1 1 6
Doina Ignat F ROU ROW 4 1 1 6
Murray Rose M AUS SWI 4 1 1 6
Max Décugis M FRA TEN 4 1 1 6
Rebecca Soni F USA SWI 3 3 0 6
Renate Stecher F GDR ATH 3 2 1 6
Daniela Silivaş F ROU GYM 3 2 1 6
Rüdiger Helm M GDR CAN 3 0 3 6

Paavo Nurmi
There are 13 females and 15 males in the above list, with 11 sports represented. Paavo Nurmi leading with 12 medals in 12 events is not a surprise, but few would likely have picked Natalie Coughlin to tie Nurmi at 12.

For the Winter Olympics, there are less events and the Olympians tend to have won fewer medals, so we’ll look only at those who won medals in all of their 4 or more events:

Name Gdr NOC Sport G S B TM
Wolfgang Hoppe M GER BOB 2 3 1 6
Eugenio Monti M ITA BOB 2 2 2 6
Matti Nykänen M FIN SKJ 4 1 0 5
Jayna Hefford F CAN ICH 4 1 0 5
Hayley Wickenheiser F CAN ICH 4 1 0 5
André Lange M GER BOB 4 1 0 5
Samppa Lajunen M FIN NCO 3 2 0 5
Caroline Ouellette F CAN ICH 4 0 0 4
Bernhard Germeshausen M GDR BOB 3 1 0 4
Gillis Grafström M SWE FSK 3 1 0 4
Vladislav Tretyak M URS ICH 3 1 0 4
Jennifer Botterill F CAN ICH 3 1 0 4
Becky Kellar F CAN ICH 3 1 0 4
Meinhard Nehmer M GDR BOB 3 0 1 4
Yevgeny Plyushchenko M RUS FSK 2 2 0 4
Jan Behrendt M GER LUG 2 1 1 4
Stefan Krauße M GER LUG 2 1 1 4
Igor Kravchuk M RUS ICH 2 1 1 4
Bjarte Engen Vik M NOR NCO 2 1 1 4
Lyubov Kozyreva-Baranova F URS CCS 1 3 0 4
Josef Benz M SUI BOB 1 2 1 4
Bernhard Lehmann M GDR BOB 1 2 1 4
Fred Anton Maier M NOR SSK 1 2 1 4
Erich Schärer M SUI BOB 1 2 1 4
Angela Ruggiero F USA ICH 1 2 1 4
Jenny Schmidgall-Potter F USA ICH 1 2 1 4
Sten Stensen M NOR SSK 1 1 2 4
Radiya Yeroshina F URS CCS 0 3 1 4
Julie Chu F USA ICH 0 3 1 4
Jiří Holík M TCH ICH 0 2 2 4
Saku Koivu M FIN ICH 0 1 3 4
Ville Peltonen M FIN ICH 0 1 3 4
Leo Visser M NED SSK 0 1 3 4

Hayley Wickenheiser

The Winter list has 33 Winter Olympians with 4 or more medals, interestingly led by two bobsledders – Wolfgang Hoppe and Eugenio Monti with 6 each. There are 10 females and 23 males, representing 8 sports.

In both lists, those who were in our previous undefeated post can be seen – Ray Ewry with 10, Rudolf Karpati and Kristin Otto with 6 among the Summer Olympians; and Caroline Ouellette with 4 among the Winter Olympians.

Paul Austin

Rower,Coca-Cola CEO,lawyer,PGA Tour Exec

Category Data
Full Name John Paul Austin
Used Name Paul Austin
Other Name J. Paul Austin
Born 14 February 1915; LaGrange Georgia (USA)
Died 26 December 1985; Atlanta Georgia (USA)
Affiliations Riverside Boat Club
Year-Games Sport Event Place Medals
1936 Summer Rowing Coxed Fours 2 heat 3 rd 2/3 —–

PaulAustin

Paul Austin attended Harvard where he rowed on the crew team, and later attended Harvard Law School. His Harvard coach once commented, “If you wanted to beat Paul Austin, you’d have to kill him.” After World War II, where he served in the Navy and commanded a PT boat as a lieutenant-commander, he returned to his native Atlanta, and joined The Coca-Cola Company, having been recruited by the legendary Coke chairman, Robert Woodruff. Woodruff groomed Austin as his successor. He became the 10th president of Coca-Cola in 1962, and took over as Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola in 1966, staying in that role thru 1980. Under his tenure, Coke enjoyed 15 consecutive years of market value growth, and he was considered instrumental in expanding its international presence. He also served for a time in the 1970s as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the PGA Tour.

Gymnasts are no longer the stars of the Olympics

While the world’s top gymnasts are competing at the World  Championships in Nanning, China, we look into a remarkable trend in Olympic gymnastics.

From 1928 through 1992, a gymnast was always among the top 3 athletes with the most medals at the Olympics. On 10 of those 15 occassions, the gymnast was ranked first. Since then, only one gymnast has reached the top 3, Zou Kai in 2008.

One might argue that this is due increased competition from athletes in other sports (which may be the case), but the number medals gymnasts are winning is also decreasing. At the last three Olympic Games, the top gymnast earned a total of three medals, while the average between 1928 and 2000 was between five and six medals.

Below are the highest ranking gymnasts at each Olympics since 1924, when individual apparatus events were introduced.

Year Overall Rank Gymnast NOC Gold Silver Bronze
1924 7 Francesco Martino ITA 2 0 0
1924 7 Leon Štukelj YUG 2 0 0
1928 1 Georges Miez SUI 3 1 0
1932 1 Romeo Neri ITA 3 0 0
1936 2 Konrad Frey GER 3 1 2
1948 2 Veikko Huhtanen FIN 3 1 1
1952 1 Viktor Chukarin URS 4 2 0
1956 1 Ágnes Keleti HUN 4 2 0
1960 1 Borys Shakhlin URS 4 2 1
1964 2 Věra Čáslavská TCH 3 1 0
1968 1 Věra Čáslavská TCH 4 2 0
1972 2 Sawao Kato JPN 3 2 0
1976 1 Nikolay Andrianov URS 4 2 1
1980 1 Aleksandr Dityatin URS 3 4 1
1984 1 Ecaterina Szabo ROU 4 1 0
1988 3 Viktor Artyomov URS 4 1 0
1992 1 Vitaly Shcherbo EUN 6 0 0
1996 7 Aleksey Nemov RUS 2 1 3
2000 7 Aleksey Nemov RUS 2 1 3
2004 5 Cătălina Ponor ROU 3 0 0
2008 2 Zou Kai CHN 3 0 0
2012 14 Zou Kai CHN 2 0 1

Why is this happening? We suspect that the reason is the increasing degree of specialization for the individual apparatus events. Of the six male gold medallists in London 2012, two (Arthur Zanetti-Rings and Krisztián Berki-Pommelled Horse) only competed in their specialism. None of the other four athletes competed in the individual all-around, with only Zou Kai reaching a second apparatus final – in which he won a bronze medal, too. Things were a bit different among women, though, as Aly Raisman, Aliya Mustafina and Sandra Izbașa reached one additional final (Raisman and Mustafina winning bronze).

If we expand our view a bit, specialization does appear to be a trend. At each Olympics, there are ten apparatus events (six for men, four for women), with at least three medals awarded in each event (in case of ties, more than three athletes per event may receive medals). If we look at the number of gymnasts dividing those medal, that number gradually increasing. For decades, around 11 gymnasts divided the men’s medals, while for the last three Games that number is 16. The lowest number came in 1980, when only eight men divided the medals, with Aleksandr Dityatin taking a medal on each apparatus. Among women the number of distinct medallists has increased from 7 to 10, as shown in the chart below.

Untitled

Not just the apparatus gymnasts are specialists – the all-around gymnasts are also becoming specialists. From 1924 through 1992, the men’s winner of the individual all-around always won at least one additional gold medal on an apparatus. Since then, the all-around winner “merely” added a single silver medal, save for Aleksey Nemov in 2000. In the women’s field the all-around winner had already been less successful historically, but 2012 marked the first time the winner (Gabby Douglas) did not win any apparatus medal at all. These trends are visible in the below charts.

Men

Women

Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach

Sailor, Bronze Medalist, German Industrialist, Metallurgy, German War Minister, Nazi Party Member

Category Data
Full Name Alfried Felix Alwyn von Bohlen und Halbach (-Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach)
Used Name Alfried von Bohlen und Halbach
Born 13 August 1907; Essen-Nordrhein-Westfalen (GER)
Died 30 July 1967; Essen-Nordrhein-Westfalen (GER)
Affiliations NRV Hamburg
Year-Games Sport Event Place Medal
1936 Summer Sailing 8 metres 3 Bronze

Alfried Felix Alwyn Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, usually known as Alfried Krupp, was the son of the former Bertha Krupp and her husband, Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach, and one whose Olympic participation was a mere footnote to his life. Bertha Krupp was an heir to the well-known Krupp family business, Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, the largest company in Europe before World War II.

Alfried_Krupp

Alfried Krupp studied metallurgy at several German universities, earning a Master’s degree from the Aachener Technische Hochschule in 1934, writing a thesis on melting steel in vacuums, and then joined the family business in 1936. The Krupp company was a steel and metal producer that would eventually contribute greatly to the German war effort.

In 1931 Alfried Krupp joined the German SS (Schutzstaffel) and became a member of the Nazi Party in 1938. When his father suffered a stroke, Alfried Krupp became head of the firm. Under his leadership, the company used slave labor, often removing Jews from concentration camps to help work in the factories. He worked closely with the SS to obtain slave labor from the concentration camps, and made his employees work in very brutal conditions even when it was obvious that the war was lost. Krupp was German Minister for the War Economy 1943-45.

After the war ended, Krupp’s use of slave labor was investigated by the Allied Military Government, and after what was known as the Krupp Trial (technically The United States of America vs. Alfried Krupp, et al.), he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for “crimes against humanity.” He was also required to forfeit much of his property. Krupp was pardoned after three years in prison by John McCloy, America High Commissioner for Germany, and his property was restored.

Alfried Krupp resumed control of his family company in 1953. He led the company until his death in 1967, after which it passed to the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, a philanthropic organization, which remained the majority shareholder into the 21st century, with the company later known as ThyssenKrupp AG, after mergers with other firms.

How Long Did They Enjoy Their Olympic Memories?

OlympStats reader David Clark of Australia asked, “What is the shortest or longest time an Olympian has been able to enjoy their Olympic medal prior to their death?” A great question and one we had to work on a little bit to get all the details.

Fully 45 athletes have died within one year of winning their final Olympic medal. Göpf Kottmann, a Swiss rower from 1964, died only 22 days after winning his single sculls bronze medal, closely followed by Swedish fencer Gösta Algren, who lived only 23 days after his fencing team épée silver in 1936. American archer G. C. Spencer won a gold medal in the 1904 team archery event, but enjoyed it for only 28 days, although he was 64-years-old when he won his medal. Here are the 36 that died within 275 days of winning an Olympic medal – an arbitrary number we chose because it gets us to the 1948 Czechoslovakian ice hockey airplane tragedy, in which six of their players died in the crash of their charter plane flying from Paris to London for a match.

Age2Dth Died Name Gdr NOC Ssn Year Spt Event Med YB YE YD
0-022 32 Göpf Kottmann M SUI S 1964 ROW Single Sculls B 1932 1964 1964
0-023 30 Gösta Almgren M SWE S 1936 FEN Épée Team S 1906 1936 1936
0-028 64 G. C. Spencer M USA S 1904 ARC Team G 1840 1904 1904
0-048 27 Rich Sanders M USA S 1972 WRE Light-Middle FS S 1945 1972 1972
0-062 24 Piet Salomons M NED S 1948 WAP Water Polo B 1924 1948 1948
0-068 30 Miguel Caldés M CUB S 2000 BSB Baseball S 1970 2000 2000
0-081 23 José de Figueroa M ESP S 1920 POL Polo S 1897 1920 1920
0-088 35 David Bratton M USA S 1904 WAP Water Polo G 1869 1904 1904
0-091 20 Bekzat Sattarkhanov M KAZ S 2000 BOX Light-Middleweight G 1980 2000 2000
0-101 42 John Black M CAN S 1924 SHO Trap Team S 1882 1924 1924
0-103 22 Waldemar Malak M POL S 1992 WLT Middle-Heavy B 1970 1992 1992
0-106 33 Gösta Magnusson M SWE S 1948 WLT Light-Heavy B 1915 1948 1948
0-113 15 Bianca Ambrosetti F ITA S 1928 GYM Team All-Around S 1914 1928 1929
0-122 26 George Van Cleaf M USA S 1904 WAP Water Polo G 1879 1904 1905
0-126 26 Yuliya Riabchynska F URS S 1972 CAN K1-500 m G 1947 1972 1973
0-130 26 John B. Taylor M USA S 1908 ATH 1600 medley relay G 1882 1908 1908
0-143 23 Viktor Blinov M URS W 1968 ICH Ice Hockey G 1945 1968 1968
0-150 45 Selwin Calverley M GBR S 1900 SAI 20+ Ton S 1855 1900 1900
0-151 22 Ivo Van Damme M BEL S 1976 ATH 1500 metres S 1954 1976 1976
0-161 24 Konrad Hirsch M SWE S 1924 FTB Football B 1900 1924 1924
0-205 27 Joseph Olivier M FRA S 1900 RUG Rugby G 1874 1900 1901
0-212 59 Petre Roşca M ROU S 1980 EQU Dressage Team B 1922 1980 1981
0-212 25 Kostas Tsiklitiras M GRE S 1912 ATH Standing High Jump B 1888 1912 1913
0-217 25 Kostas Tsiklitiras M GRE S 1912 ATH Standing Long Jump G 1888 1912 1913
0-218 26 Sayed Jaffar M IND S 1936 HOK Hockey G 1911 1936 1937
0-222 31 Radivoj Korać M YUG S 1968 BAS Basketball S 1938 1968 1969
0-240 33 George Calnan M USA S 1932 FEN Épée Team B 1900 1932 1933
0-246 33 George Calnan M USA S 1932 FEN Foil Team B 1900 1932 1933
0-255 24 George Saling M USA S 1932 ATH 110 m hurdles G 1909 1932 1933
0-269 24 Miloslav Bednařík M TCH S 1988 SHO Trap S 1965 1988 1989
0-274 30 Zdeněk Jarkovský M TCH W 1948 ICH Ice Hockey S 1918 1948 1948
0-274 22 Miloslav Pokorný M TCH W 1948 ICH Ice Hockey S 1926 1948 1948
0-274 25 Karel Stibor M TCH W 1948 ICH Ice Hockey S 1923 1948 1948
0-274 31 Vilibald Šťovík M TCH W 1948 ICH Ice Hockey S 1917 1948 1948
0-274 34 Ladislav Troják M TCH W 1948 ICH Ice Hockey S 1914 1948 1948

Bekzat Sattarkhanov

Now who was able to enjoy their medal for the longest time? Fifty-seven (57) now deceased Olympic medalists lived 75 or more years after winning their Olympic medal, led by Finnish gymnast Jalmari Kivenheimo, who won a silver medal in 1912 and lived 82 years, 111 days more (although this record is being broken by Clara Marangoni, who is still living – see below). American diver Aileen Riggin lived longer than any gold medalist after winning that gold, as she survived 82 years, 51 days after her victory in 1920 at age 14 – although technically this record has already been broken by a living Olympian – see the note at the end of the following table. Here are all those who lived 78 or more years after winning an Olympic medal:

Age2Dth Died Name Gdr NOC Ssn Year Spt Event Med YB YE YD
82-111 105 Jalmari Kivenheimo M FIN S 1912 GYM Team All-Around S 1889 1912 1994
82-051 96 Aileen Riggin F USA S 1920 DIV Springboard G 1906 1920 2002
80-229 105 Harry Prieste M USA S 1920 DIV Platform B 1896 1920 2001
80-024 102 Babe Rockefeller M USA S 1924 ROW Coxed Eights G 1902 1924 2004
79-185 95 Carolina Tronconi F ITA S 1928 GYM Team All-Around S 1913 1928 2008
79-151 97 Cissie Stewart F GBR S 1928 SWI 4 x 100 m FS relay S 1911 1928 2008
79-137 97 Gertrude Ederle F USA S 1924 SWI 400 m FS B 1906 1924 2003
79-112 95 Carin Nilsson F SWE S 1920 SWI 4 x 100 m FS relay B 1904 1920 1999
79-066 97 Jam Handy M USA S 1904 SWI 400 m Breaststroke B 1886 1904 1983
79-044 99 Abel Kiviat M USA S 1912 ATH 1500 m S 1892 1912 1991
78-363 101 Attilio Pavesi M ITA S 1932 CYC Road Race Indiv G 1910 1932 2011
78-357 103 Carmelo Camet M ARG S 1928 FEN Foil Team B 1904 1928 2007
78-229 105 Lucien Démanet M FRA S 1900 GYM Individual All-Around B 1874 1900 1979
78-220 99 Roger Beaufrand M FRA S 1928 CYC Sprint G 1908 1928 2007
78-210 101 Herman Brix M USA S 1928 ATH Shot Put S 1906 1928 2007
78-093 96 Aileen Riggin F USA S 1924 DIV Springboard S 1906 1924 2002
78-064 98 Harry Glancy M USA S 1924 SWI 4 x 200 m FS relay G 1904 1924 2002
78-057 96 Max Décugis M FRA S 1900 TEN Doubles S 1882 1900 1978
78-037 98 Georg Werner M SWE S 1924 SWI 4 x 200 m FS relay B 1904 1924 2002

Aileen Riggin
The above record is at risk of being broken by a still-living Olympian. Evelyn Furtsch was an American sprinter who won a gold medal at the 1932 Olympics in the 4×100 relay, and is still alive as of October 2014 – 82 years, and about 90 days, after winning her Olympic medal.

So then we started thinking – who are the Olympians, not just medalists, who lived for the longest time or the shortest time after their final Olympic appearance? Here we measured the time not from the end of their event, but from the day of the Closing Ceremony.

Sadly, eight (8) Olympians did not live to see the Closing Ceremony. We know of the 11 Israelis who were murdered at München in 1972, with four of those having already competed as Olympians. Only two athletes died while competing in the Olympics – Knut Enemark Jensen, a Danish cyclist who succumbed during the 1960 cycling team time trial; and Francisco Lazaro, a Portuguese marathoner who died the day after the 1912 marathon.

Two athletes died during the Games after competing but not from the effects of the events or from being cowardly murdered. After losing his first match in 1936 featherweight boxing, Romanian Nicolae Berechet developed a carbuncle which quickly spread into blood poisoning and in the pre-antibiotic days, he died only three days after his Olympic bout, and two days before the Closing Ceremony. In 1956, Italian rower Arrigo Meniccoci competed in coxed eights, but after his event ended, he went for a car ride and was killed in a crash 7 days before the Closing Ceremony.

This does not include athletes who died in training, but never actually competed in the Olympics, such as Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger who died the day before the 2010 Vancouver Opening Ceremony during a training run; Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypecki, the British/Polish luger who likewise died in training before the 1964 Innsbruck Games; Czechoslovak gymnast Eliska Mišaková, who developed polio after arriving in London for the 1948 Olympics, and died the day before the Opening Ceremony; or Australian downhiller skiier Ross Milne, who died before the Innsbruck Games after crashing on a training run.

Here are all the Olympians who died less than 7 weeks after the Closing Ceremony of an Olympics:

Age2Dth AgeDth Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport LastOly YrBth YrDth
-16 days 23 Knud Enemark Jensen M S DEN CYC 1960 1936 1960
-12 days 19 Francisco Lázaro M S POR ATH 1912 1891 1912
-7 days 24 Arrigo Menicocci M S ITA ROW 1956 1933 1956
-6 days 28 David Berger M S ISR WLT 1972 1944 1972
-6 days 28 Ze'ev Friedman M S ISR WLT 1972 1944 1972
-6 days 31 Yossef Romano M S ISR WLT 1972 1940 1972
-6 days 24 Eliezer Halfin M S ISR WRE 1972 1948 1972
-2 days 21 Nicolae Berechet M S ROU BOX 1936 1915 1936
0-007 23 Tony Zasada M S CAN ROW 1984 1960 1984
0-007 23 Moritz Heidegger M W LIE BOB 1956 1932 1956
0-013 32 Göpf Kottmann M S SUI ROW 1964 1932 1964
0-014 26 Jonatan Johansson M W SWE SNB 2006 1980 2006
0-015 29 Gösta Almgren M S SWE FEN 1936 1906 1936
0-027 23 Aurelio Janet M S CUB ATH 1968 1945 1968
0-029 22 Thomas Pleisch M W SUI ICH 1936 1913 1936
0-034 64 G. C. Spencer M S USA ARC 1904 1840 1904
0-037 27 Rich Sanders M S USA WRE 1972 1945 1972
0-042 21 Leo Portelance M S CAN SWI 1952 1931 1952
0-046 24 George Gardiner M S GBR WRE 1924 1900 1924

Knud Enemark Jensen

What about those who lived the longest after their final Olympic appearance? Thirteen (13) Olympians lived for 80 or more years after they left the Olympic stage. Here is the list:

Age2Dth AgeDth Name Gdr Ssn NOC Sport LstOly YrBth YrDth
86-210 103 Ivo Pavelić M S YUG SWI 1924 1908 2011
85-286 104 Signe Johansson F S SWE DIV 1924 1905 2010
82-311 102 Rezső Kende M S HUN GYM 1928 1908 2011
82-110 98 Maud Sundberg F S SWE ATH 1928 1911 2010
82-094 105 Jalmari Kivenheimo M S FIN GYM 1912 1889 1994
81-343 99 Helen Johns F S USA SWI 1932 1914 2014
81-338 102 Willem Winkelman M S NED ATH 1908 1887 1990
81-183 99 Elsa Andersson F S SWE DIV 1912 1894 1994
81-178 104 Andrejs Kapmals M S RUS ATH 1912 1889 1994
81-053 102 Hans Kleppen M W NOR SKJ 1928 1907 2009
80-228 104 Harry Prieste M S USA DIV 1920 1896 2001
80-141 100 John Dellert M S USA GYM 1904 1884 1985
80-014 102 Babe Rockefeller M S USA ROW 1924 1902 2004

There are two additions to this list still alive – Clara Marangoni, an Italian gymnast from the 1928 Olympics, is the only known Olympian still alive who competed at the Amsterdam Games – she is now in her 86th year after her final Olympic appearance, and is close to bettering Pavelić’s mark; and Evelyn Furtsch, as mentioned above, now 82 years after her Olympic appearance.

While researching this topic we found another interesting tidbit. How many Olympic athletes never saw their 20th birthday? Sadly, it has happened eight times. An Italian gymnast from 1928, Bianca Ambrosetti, was the youngest, dying at age 15 after competing when she was 14. Three on this list died in the 1961 US Figure Skating tragedy when their plane crashed in Belgium while travelling to the 1962 World Championships. Here is the list of Olympic teenagers who died:

AgeDth Name Gender Season NOC Sport Oly YrBth YrDth
15 Bianca Ambrosetti F S ITA GYM 1928 1914 1929
17 Laurie Owen F W USA FSK 1960 1944 1961
18 Ray Hadley Jr. M W USA FSK 1960 1943 1961
18 Viktoriya Dimitrova F W BUL FSK 1992 1976 1994
19 Marián Havlíček M S TCH CAN 1972 1953 1972
19 Amar Garibović M W SRB CCS 2010 1991 2010
19 Ila Ray Hadley F W USA FSK 1960 1942 1961
19 Sandra Schmitt F W GER FRS 1998 1981 2000

What about the other end of the spectrum? Fortunately, many Olympians have lived long, full lives. At least fifty-nine (59) Olympians have died after their 100th birthday (this is not always easy to track), led by Walter Walsh, American shooter from 1948, who died earlier in 2014 just short of his 107th birthday – the longest-lived Olympian ever.

So there you have it, David. Thanx for the interesting question and we hope we answered it for you.

Benjamin Spock

Rower, gold medalist, pediatrician, author, peace activist, Presidential candidate

Category Data
Full Name Benjamin McLane "Ben" Spock
Used Name Ben Spock
Born 2 May 1903; New Haven Connecticut (USA)
Died 15 March 1998; La Jolla California (USA)
Measurements 196 cm
Affiliations Yale University
Year-Games Sport Event Place Medal
1924 Summer Rowing Coxed Eights 1 Gold

Ben Spock ran track for one year at Yale and rowed crew for four years, but his college career pales beside his accomplishments afterwards. After college he started med school at Yale, then transferred to Columbia, where he earned his M.D. and became a pediatrician. As the author of Baby and Child Care, Dr. Spock is a name known to millions of parents in this country. The book was written while Spock practiced pediatrics in New York and sold over 25,000,000 copies. He also wrote five other books on child care.

During the 60s, Dr Benjamin Spock was in the news for other reasons. He took a strong stand against nuclear proliferation and participated in several protests against military escalation in Vietnam. In 1972, Ben Spock became the first former U.S. Olympic athlete to run for the United States presidency on the People’s Party ticket in 1972, but received only 78,759 votes (about 0.1%). He espoused radical political action and severe reduction of the military but received no electoral votes. After he retired from practicing medicine, he did some occasional public speaking, usually at universities or for the benefit of peace groups.

Nations with the Highest Percentage of Women’s Olympic Medals

So which nation has the most important female athletes? No, we don’t mean which nation’s women have won the most medals, that would be the United States, as it is for the men. But which nations’ women have won the highest percentage of the medals for their country?

There are actually 5 countries where all of their medals have been won by women: Bahrain, Costa Rica, Montenegro, Mozambique, and Zimbabwer. Of those, Zimbabwe has won the most medals with only 8. This 100%-er list follows:

NOC Gold Medals GW MW %G %TM
Zimbabwe 3 8 3 8 100.0% 100.0%
Costa Rica 1 4 1 4 100.0% 100.0%
Mozambique 1 2 1 2 100.0% 100.0%
Bahrain 0 1 0 1 —– 100.0%
Montenegro 0 1 0 1 —– 100.0%

But this seems a bit of a specious argument, with so few overall medals won. Let’s look only at the nations that won 100 or more medals overall (both men, women, and mixed), and see how their women did. Here is that list:

NOC Gold Medals GW MW %G %TM
China 213 526 120 303 56.3% 57.6%
Romania 88 302 58 153 65.9% 50.7%
The Ukraine 35 122 18 59 51.4% 48.4%
German Demo. Rep. 192 519 94 241 49.0% 46.4%
Russia 183 528 72 218 39.3% 41.3%
The Netherlands 115 377 52 151 45.2% 40.1%
Australia 144 485 58 189 40.3% 39.0%
Unified Team 54 135 16 52 29.6% 38.5%
Canada 121 443 46 166 38.0% 37.5%
Korea (South) 107 296 45 103 42.1% 34.8%
Germany 288 915 88 300 30.6% 32.8%
Spain 38 133 9 38 23.7% 28.6%
Austria 79 307 21 87 26.6% 28.3%
Soviet Union 473 1204 122 331 25.8% 27.5%
Bulgaria 52 220 12 59 23.1% 26.8%
United States 1071 2682 277 701 25.9% 26.1%
Fed. Rep. Germany 67 243 18 63 26.9% 25.9%
Cuba 71 202 12 49 16.9% 24.3%
Japan 140 443 28 102 20.0% 23.0%
Poland 70 291 12 65 17.1% 22.3%
Hungary 167 480 37 102 22.2% 21.3%
Great Britain 246 805 43 164 17.5% 20.4%
Brazil 23 108 5 22 21.7% 20.4%
Czechoslovakia 51 168 13 33 25.5% 19.6%
New Zealand 42 101 9 19 21.4% 18.8%
Italy 236 664 37 115 15.7% 17.3%
Denmark 43 179 9 30 20.9% 16.8%
France 235 789 37 132 15.7% 16.7%
Greece 30 110 4 18 13.3% 16.4%
Norway 173 476 24 77 13.9% 16.2%
Switzerland 97 323 18 49 18.6% 15.2%
Sweden 192 626 22 77 11.5% 12.3%
Finland 143 463 12 50 8.4% 10.8%
Belgium 39 149 3 16 7.7% 10.7%

China and Romania are the only two nations where their women have won more than 50% of their nations medals and gold medals. Romania is led by their female gymnasts and rowers, while China’s female divers, gymnasts, and weightlifters have won a large percentage of their medals. Romanian women have won an astounding 65.9% of their nations gold medals. And in the era of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), there were fewer women’s medals available, so their percentages in the high 40s are also impressive, although we do know there were, shall we say, some problems with a few of those.

At the other end of the spectrum, Belgium and Finland bring up the rear, with only about 11% of medals won by women, and about 8% of gold medals won, by far the worst numbers in this subset in both categories.

Overall, women have won about 27.5% of medals and gold medals awarded at the Olympics. So the former Soviet Union is the closest to the median nation, although when it existed, the percentage of women’s medals was likely slightly lower. The United States is also pretty close to the median.

If we look at the other end of the spectrum, we get the following list of nations whose women have never won a medal or gold medal at the Olympics, although their men have won both:

NOC Gold Medals
Iran 15 60
Egypt 7 25
Trinidad & Tobago 2 18
Mixed Team 6 17
Pakistan 3 10
Uruguay 2 10
Uganda 2 7
Dominican Republic 3 6
Luxembourg 2 5
Panama 1 3
Ecuador 1 2
Surinam 1 2
Burundi 1 1
Grenada 1 1
United Arab Emirates 1 1

There are also 36 nations which won Olympic medals, but no golds, and none won by a woman. The two nations with the most medals in this category are The Philippines, with 9 medals, and Puerto Rico, with 8.