Tun Maung

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to provide a post on an interesting case, that of Tun Maung, who represented Myanmar/Burma in weightlifting at three consecutive editions of the Games. Thanks to some excellent research by Connor Mah, we know a lot about him, yet still he remains an Olympic mystery.

(Tun Maung, pictured on the left at the Mandalay Bodybuilding Hall of Fame)

Tun Maung, born September 30, 1931, got his start in international weightlifting at the 1951 Asian Games, and then attended the 1952 Helsinki Olympics as a featherweight, placing 14th out of 22 entrants. He won that division at the Asian Games in 1954, and took bronze at the World Championships that same year. In 1955 he switched to the lightweight category and was again third at the World Championships, before placing eighth at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He was later fourth at the 1958 Asian Games and failed to record a mark in the snatch at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

A member of the Burma Amateur Weight Lifting Federation, Tun Maung was also the runner-up to two-time American Olympic champion Tommy Kono in the 1954 Mr. Universe international bodybuilding competition held in Paris, and finished in third place at the Mr. Asia bodybuilding competition in 1951. By all accounts, he seems to have been one of most noteworthy strongmen from Burma in the 1950s.

(Video footage of Maung begins at 1:49)

Aside from a few of the usual uncertain aspects, such as his year of birth, which is sometimes seen as 1928, and whether or not he is living, there are some additional mysteries surrounding Tun Maung. The first is his name, which is complicated by a Burmese naming system that does not follow western structures, can change over time, and is often complicated by indigenous honorifics such as “U” and “Bo”, as well as foreign titles such as “Captain” and “Sergeant”, all of which have been used to refer to Tun Maung. In some databases, he is listed as Nil Tun Maung, although it remains unclear as to whether “Nil” is part of his name or just a shorthand to indicate that he has no surname in the western sense.

A final complication is Tun Maung Kwye, born October 15, 1931 in the same place as the other Tun Maung. This individual was always a featherweight weightlifter: he was 14th and 7th in that division at the 1956 and 1960 Olympics respectively, and came in 5th at the 1958 Asian Games. What connection between the two, if any, is unclear but their similarities in date and place of birth, as well as weight classes and periods of activity, suggests that there might be some confusion in their results. At least one source claims that there were only two weightlifters at the Melbourne Games, which would indicate that the two Tun Maungs were one and the same and somehow competed in two different weight classes at the same Olympics.

Whatever the case, we hope that you have found this blog interesting and we will be back in a week with another topic. We hope that you will join us! We also wanted to point out one removal of an Olympian thanks to Mah’s research that might have gone under the radar: Norwegian alpine skier Jack Nielsen, Jr., born October 7, 1923, died May 8, 2020 in Switzerland at the age of 96.

Egyptian Olympians from 1928

Recently at Oldest Olympians, the Egyptian delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Games has been on our mind because we discovered that one of the competitors, wrestler Ibrahim Sobh, later became known as a poet, and thus we were able to uncover more of his life story. We have also been wanting to feature some of the lesser-known competitors from this edition, and thus today we have decided to feature a few of the Egyptian participants for whom we lack dates of birth and death.

(Ali Kamel, left, and Ibrahim Kamel, right, pictured in Al-Ahram)

Ali Kamel – Member of Egypt’s wrestling delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Ali Kamel represented Egypt in the Greco-Roman, featherweight competition at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, where he lost his first bout, won his second match, and was then eliminated in round three by the upcoming gold medalist Voldemar Väli of Estonia. Domestically, he had a successful career and was one of Alexandria’s best-known wrestlers during the 1920s, winning several national titles, but unfortunately his common name has made it difficult to track any details of his later life.

Ibrahim Kamel – Member of Egypt’s wrestling delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Much the same can be said of Ibrahim Kamel, who competed in the Greco-Roman bantamweight wrestling event in 1928 and lost his first two bouts, leading to his elimination from the competition. Competing out of Giza’s Tersana Club, he was of no relation to Ali Kamel, but saw similar domestic success in the Cairo region. Furthermore, just like Ali, his common name has made it difficult to know his ultimate fate.

Saul Moyal – Member of Egypt’s fencing delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

We know much more about fencer Saul Moyal, who represented Egypt in individual and team events in both foil and épée. The Egyptians were eliminated in the first round of the team foil and the quarterfinals of the épée, while individually Moyal was eliminated in the semifinals of the foil and placed 10th in the épée. He had better luck at the 1932 Maccabiah Games, where he won medals in all disciplines, and also performed well domestically, including being Egyptian foil runner-up in 1928 and third place in 1936. By career he was an employee of the Vacuum Oil Company of Cairo, but we have been unable to trace his activities after World War II.

(Mohamed Gamal)

There were also several members of the football team that we have been unable to uncover much information about, although some are relatively better known. Mohamed Shemais, for example, played with Tersana during the 1920s and was a member of the administrative committees for both the delegation to the 1948 London Olympics and the 1951 Mediterranean Games. He was still alive and living in Shubra, Cairo, in May 1960, although we have not been able to uncover his age at the time. Similarly, we know that El-Olympi player Mohamed Gamal was still alive and coaching in January 1949, but nothing further.

(Abdel Hamid Hamdi)

About other players, such as Ahmed Soliman and Abdel Hamid Hamdi, both of Al-Ahly, we know nothing. Furthermore, for at least one of the alternates on the team, Sid Ahmed, we do not even know what club he was a member of, or if there are errors in his name as presented by the relevant sources. Thus, as you can see, there is a lot to explore about the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, and so we hope that you will join us for future blogs as we continue to explore some of the lesser touched-upon aspects of these Games!

Missing Biographical Data from the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

After travelling back to 1904 for our last blog post, today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to approach an edition that is (relatively) more recent: the 1952 Helsinki Games. In particular, it was brought to our attention that out of all those who participated, only four are missing their complete birth data on Olympedia. Since there is more known in general about these athletes, given the era in which they competed, we felt that it would be worth featuring them here.

(Jehangir Naigamwalla, pictured on page 29 of the March 8, 1998 edition of The Times of India)

Jehangir Naigamwalla – Member of India’s water polo squad at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Jehangir Naigamwalla represented India in the water polo tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where his country was eliminated in the qualification round after being defeated by both Italy and the Soviet Union. He was also entered in swimming’s 200 metres breaststroke competition, but did not start. He had better luck at the 1951 Asian Games, where he won bronze medals in that event, as well as the 3×100 metres medley relay, and he was active in the postwar period until at least 1955. He was still alive in 1998, but unfortunately we have seen no updates since then and have no indication of his age.

(Juan Bizama, pictured at the Chilean National History Museum)

Juan Bizama – Member of Chile’s shooting delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Juan Bizama represented Chile in two small-bore rifle, 50 metres events at the 1952 Helsinki Games, placing 25th in the prone and 28th in the three positions. He had much better luck at the 1951 Pan American Games, where he took silver in the small-bore rifle, three positions team event and bronze in both the army rifle three positions and standing competitions. An army sergeant, he was active as early as 1940, but unfortunately we have been unable to locate any information about his age or activities after the 1950s.

(Karl Hofstetter, pictured in the archives of HC Olten)

Karl Hofstetter – Member of Switzerland’s field hockey squad at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Karl Hofstetter represented Switzerland in the field hockey tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where his country was eliminated by Austria in round one. A forward with HC Olten, we have been unable to uncover much else about him, as is often the case with individuals who participate in team sports. There is, however, certainly a possibility that he is still alive, and perhaps even under the age of 90.

Pradip Bose – Member of India’s cycling delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Games

Pradip Bose, born c. 1935, represented India in cycling’s road race at the 1952 Helsinki Games, but since no members of the team completed the course, they did not place in the event. Unfortunately, we know of no other results or life events, although he was aged only 17 at the Olympics, which means that he could very well still be alive.

Although these are the only four individuals completely missing biographical data for their birth, there are nearly 100 more competitors for whom only their year of birth is known and for whom their subsequent fate remains a mystery. With that in mind, it seems very likely that we will address this topic again sometime in the future, so we hope that you will join us!