Australian Olympic Mysteries, Part 1

Thanks to some dedicated recent work from Connor Mah, as well as generally good data from the country, we know the death dates of most Australian Olympians who were born before 1931. Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to see if we could perhaps address the few remaining cases on our list. In total, there are 11 Australian individuals who are missing dates of death, so today we are going to look at the five individuals who are definitely deceased, but for whom we do not know the exact date.

(Rusty Cook, pictured in the March 12, 1936 edition of The Queenslander)

Rusty Cook – Member of Australia’s boxing delegation to the 1936 Berlin Olympics

As a lightweight, Arthur Leonard “Rusty” Cook, born April 20, 1912, won a gold medal in the boxing tournament at the 1934 British Empire Games. He had less success as a welterweight, however, and was eliminated in round two of the 1936 Berlin Olympics by upcoming gold medalist [Sten Suvio]() of Finland. He turned professional in 1938, but gave up the sport less than a year later due to conflicts with his business interests. We have some suggestion that he died October 10, 1991, but have not been able to verify that yet.

Bert Harris – Member of Australia’s wresting delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Bert Harris, born c. 1916, wrestled for Australia in the flyweight, freestyle event at the 1948 London Games, but was eliminated after losing his first two bouts. He had much better luck at the 1950 British Empire Games, where he won the gold medal in that competition. There is some indication that he may have been born closer to 1918 and died in 1982, but we have not yet been able to confirm this.

Alexander Martonffy – Member of Australia’s fencing delegation to the 1956 and 1964 Summer Olympics

Alexander Martonffy, born May 7, 1919, represented Australia in three sabre fencing events across two editions of the Olympic Games. In 1956, he was eliminated in round one with the team, while in 1964 he had the same result in both the individual and the team tournaments. The height of his sporting career came at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, when he took silver with the sabre team. Although we know that he is deceased, we have been unable to locate an exact date, or even a year.

Charles Green – Member of Australia’s track and field delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Charles Green, born August 15, 1921, represented Australia in the 110 metres hurdles at the 1948 London Games, where he was eliminated in round one of the competition. He later became a medical doctor and The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners announced his death in 2009. Unfortunately, the notice did not provide an exact date, or even a year, and the document has since been removed from the internet.

(Bev Scott’s Olympic tracksuit, from the auction site)

Bev Scott – Member of Australia’s wrestling delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Finally, we do not know much about Bev Scott, born November 11, 1922, aside from his Olympic participation. At the 1952 Helsinki Games, he represented Australia in the wrestling’s welterweight, freestyle division, where he was eliminated in round three. His Olympic tracksuit was auctioned off c. 2018, which suggests that he is deceased, but we have not been able to confirm this.

That is enough names for now, but we hope that you will join us next week when we look into Australian Olympic mysteries that may still be living!

Everard Endt

If we were to say that today’s Olympic Mystery concerned an American Olympic champion, frequent readers of this blog may not be all that surprised, being well aware how much data is missing from early editions of the Games. Yet if we were to say that the individual in question won his prize at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, it may raise more than a few eyebrows. That is exactly the type of case that we will be discussing today, however, as we look into American sailor Everard “Ducky” Endt.

(Endt pictured at the Mystic Seaport Museum)

Endt was born April 7, 1893 in Zaandam, Netherlands, but emigrated to the United States and became a citizen in October 1933. A sailor by trade, he served in the United States Navy Reserve, but was best known as a yacht racer. His crowning achievement was winning the gold medal in the 6 metres class at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics alongside, among others, John Morgan, who recently turned 90 and is the grandson of industrialist J.P. Morgan.

There is plenty of evidence for activity in Endt’s later life, and he eventually settled in Florida. He was still alive in 1984 at the age of 91, appropriately enough for being featured on Oldest Olympians, but after that he disappears from the public record. He had a Social Security Number, yet does not feature in the Death Index. He had a rather unique name (and nickname), yet we cannot locate an obituary.

We would love to conclude the story of a great Olympian with a complete record of his life. Our best guess is that he perhaps returned to the Netherlands and died there. Unfortunately, unless and until someone can locate more information about his final years, Endt will remain an Olympic mystery.

The Longest Olympic Marriages

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to look into a question asked recently by the OlyMADMen: what is the longest Olympic marriage? The discussion was spurred by the discovery of the death of British gymnast Pat Evans, born 1926, on January 19 of this year at the age of 93. Evans represented her country at the 1948 London Games, where she was ninth in the team event. Two months later, she married Jack Whitford, born January 3, 1924, who would go on to represent Great Britain at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.       

(Pat Evans)

This means that Whitford and Evans were married for over 71 years. But was it a record? Olympedia has an extensive record of family relations across the Olympics (including through marriage), but exact wedding dates can be elusive. The short answer is, yes, Whitford and Evans appear to have had the longest marriage of any Olympic couple.

(Hans Pfann and Lydia Zeitlhofer pictured at Gymmedia.de)

The next question, then, is who is the living couple that is closest to breaking the record? At first we thought that it might be Hans Pfann and Lydia Zeitlhofer, born September 14, 1920 and February 18, 1931, respectively, with both having represented Germany in gymnastics in 1952 (with Pfann returning in 1956). They were married on August 18, 1953, but unfortunately Zeitlhofer died September 10, 2019 and the age of 88, ending their marriage after 66 years.

(Les Laing)

Eleven days after Pfann and Zeitlhofer married, however, another Olympic duo were wed: Les Laing, born February 19, 1925, and Carmen Phipps, born October 9, 1927. Both represented Jamaica in track athletics at the 1948 London Olympics, but Laing also attended the 1952 Games, winning gold in the 4×400 metres relay. As far as we know, both are still alive and remain married after 67 years, making them the living couple with the longest Olympic marriage.

(Elvira and Louis Barbey)

It would not be an Oldest Olympians blog post, however, without some sort of caveat. This time, it is one case for whom we do not have sufficient information to determine how long the couple was married. Two of Switzerland’s figure skaters at the 1928 St. Moritz Games, Louis and Elvira Barbey, were married at the time of their Olympic participation. Louis was born November 10, 1888 while Elvira was born August 7, 1892. Unfortunately, we know neither the date of their marriage nor either of their dates of death, and thus we cannot rule out that their marriage may have lasted longer than Evans and Whitford’s. As far as we have been able to discern, however, this is the only marriage that has the potential to better the record set by Evans and Whitford.

The Oldest Possibly Living Non-Starters

Over the last two weeks, we have looked at all of the “possibly living” Olympians born before our current Oldest Olympian, Félix Sienra. We now want to complete that list by noting the 12 non-starters that fall into the same category. We do this not only for the sake of completing our previous posts but because, as the example of Dutch 1932 athletics alternate Mien Schopman-Klaver, who died at the age of 107, showed these competitors provide us with important links to Games that are disappearing from living memory and their achievements and sporting legacies are worth celebrating even if they did not actually get to compete at the Olympics. As with our previous posts, we suspect that all of these individuals are in fact deceased, but we simply cannot confirm it to be the case.

Hussein Ezzat, born in 1915, was a member of the Egyptian football squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but did not see any playing time.

Name Birthday Notes
Leonardo Valdés 1912 Alternate for Cuba in the 100 and 200 metres sprints at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics
Renard Perez December 8 1913 Alternate on Uruguay’s water polo squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
José Pescador December 6 1913 Alternate on Uruguay’s water polo squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Shigeo Takagi July 28 1913 Alternate on Japan’s water polo squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Masuzo Maeda June 29 1914 Alternate on Japan’s water polo squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Karel Nejtek December 14 1914 Did not start for Czechoslovakia in boxing’s heavyweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Marin Novák November 5 1914 Did not start for Czechoslovakia in boxing’s featherweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Martin Baranovič March 15 1915 Did not start for Czechoslovakia in boxing’s middleweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Norberto Dick July 4 1915 Alternate on Brazil’s coxed eight squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Hussein Ezzat 1915 Alternate on Egypt’s football team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Bruno Loibl March 21 1915 Did not start for Germany in boxing’s middleweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Ángel Machado October 4 1915 Did not start for Argentina in boxing’s middleweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

This concludes our look into the subject of those that might be contenders for the crown of Oldest Olympian. In a few days, we will move on to new topics, and we very much hope that you will join us!

Older Than Félix Sienra

Last week, we looked at all of the “possibly living” Olympians born before the former Oldest Olympian, John Lysak. As we have mentioned in the past, there are approximately 2000 Olympians, non-starters, and demonstration event competitors born between 1910 and 1930 for whom we have no confirmation on whether they are alive or deceased. In addition, there are 427 individuals who participated in the Games in 1928, 1932, and 1936 for whom we have no information on their date, or even year, of birth. Today we want to focus on a small subset of those 2000, the 72 who were born between Lysak and the Olympian currently believed to be the oldest living, Félix Sienra. Seven were non-starters, so to shorten the list just a little, we are going to look at the remaining 65 by year of birth. Astute readers may notice one more omission, that of Jaroslav Volak, who was the oldest Olympic medalist with an uncertain living status. We received information to indicate that he was deceased (albeit without a specific date), and thus we were able to remove him from the list.

It should be noted that discussing these individuals in no way represents any belief on the part of Oldest Olympians that these athletes are still alive; we simply cannot confirm that they are deceased. In fact, we find it highly unlikely that any Olympian who is between the age of 104 and 106 would have somehow escaped our attention completely. It remains, however, an important caveat and is always a possibility: language barriers, poor media coverage of older athletes, and desire for privacy from a generation when the Games were not as big as they are now all contribute to the chance that someone may have eluded our radar. In the past, several Olympic centenarians have reached that milestone with little public, sometimes not being revealed until their death. We feel, therefore, that it is important to share this list to make our research methods a little more public and subject to scrutiny, perhaps solving a case or two along the way.

Santiago Massini represented Argentina in four fencing events across two editions of the Olympic Games, in 1952 and 1956.

1914

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Yukie Arata Japan Swimming October 25 1914
Antonio Cuba Peru Athletics December 10 1914
Norio Fujimura Japan Sailing November 14 1914
Jihei Furusho Japan Water polo December 15 1914
Vítězslav Hloušek Czechoslovakia Basketball October 31 1914
Masaru Kashiwahara Japan Rowing October 30 1914
Emmanouil Mallidis Greece Swimming 1914
Sayed Masoud Egypt Weightlifting November 15 1914
Santiago Massini Argentina Fencing August 20 1914
Iwao Masuda Japan Athletics December 25 1914
Eusebio Ojeda Chile Rowings 1914
František Prokop Czechoslovakia Sport shooting September 131914
Panagiotis Provatopoulos Greece Swimming and water polo 1914
Edgar Ramsay South Africa Rowing October 20 1914
Joaquim Sampaio Portugal Sport shooting August 30 1914
Osamu Takechi Japan Field hockey 1914
Sotirios Vatanidis Greece Wrestling 1914
Gretl Weikert Austria Alpine skiing September 25 1914
Hideichi Yoshioka Japan Wrestling September 10 1914
Zou Wenzhi China Basketball 1914

Hatsuko Morioka represented Japan in four swimming events across two editions of the Games, in 1932 and 1936.

1915

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Luis Aguirrebeña Chile Water polo August 26 1915
Basilio Álvez Uruguay Boxing July 11 1915
Sayed Ali Babaci Afghanistan Field hockey March 12 1915
Karel Brandstätter Czechoslovakia Rowing February 5 1915
Pierre Carlier Switzerland Basketball December 3 1915
José Castro Uruguay Water polo February 19 1915
Petre Cișmigiu Romania Sport shooting June 12 1915
Max Colli Austria Rowing December 5 1915
Manuel Consiglieri Peru Athletics November 15 1915
José D'Andrea Argentina Fencing November 26 1915
Ali Erfan Egypt Wrestling March 18 1915
Michihiro Ito Japan Field hockey March 20 1915
Takeo Ito Japan Field hockey January 5 1915
Vilém Jakl Czechoslovakia Cycling February 22 1915
Torajiro Kataoka Japan Water polo Febraury 7 1915
Karel Kuhn Czechoslovakia Basketball September 14 1915
Kyu-Hwan Lee Japan Boxing February 14 1915
Werner Lehmann Switzerland Swimming August 18 1915
Nemanja Marković Yugoslavia Sport shooting July 7 1915
Juan Ángel Martini Sr. Argentina Sport shooting December 28 1915
Jan Matoušek Czechoslovakia Rowing April 19 1915
Spyridon Mavrogiorgos Greece Swimming 1915
Mitsuo Mizutani Japan Wrestling October 5 1915
Estevão Molnar Brazil Fencing August 26 1915
Hatsuko Morioka Japan Swimming June 22 1915
Armando Moutinho Portugal Water polo January 4 1915
Uichi Munakata Japan Basketball November 26 1915
Junko Nishida Japan Athletics November 3 1915
Lidoro Oliver Argentina Boxing September 18 1915
Reiko Osawa Japan Diving November 28 1915
Konstantinos Pantazis Greece Athletics 1915
Denise Parmentier Belgium Gymnastics January 5 1915
Raúl Rodríguez Argentina Boxing November 26 1915
Gamal El-Din Sabri Egypt Basketball June 21 1915
Pedro Simão Brazil Sport shooting August 16 1915
Hiroshi Tanaka Japan Athletics June 29 1915
Fidel Tricánico Uruguay Boxing January 21 1915
Jaime Ucar Uruguayl Fencing September 24 1915
Johanna Vancura Austria Athletics July 20 1915
Sadako Yamamoto Japan Athletics July 14 1915
Günther Zobernig Austria Swimming December 5 1915

Khushi Ram represented India in the gymnastics tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and was still alive at an Olympic reunion in October 2003.

1916

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Arno Franzen Brazil Rowing January 14 1916
Khushi Ram India Gymnastics January 15 1916
José Roger Argentina Sport shooting January 20 1916
Abderrahman Sebti Morocco Fencing January 9 1916

For our next entry, we will be looking into the non-starter and demonstration event Olympians that we skipped in the last two posts. We hope that you will join us!