1924 British Olympic Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to return to the subject of British Olympic mysteries. Once again, thanks to the help of Connor Mah and Rob Gilmore, we have some good information on those Britons who competed at the 1924 Paris Games. There are, however, a few cases to highlight where we are uncertain as to the precise identity of the athlete.

Walter Wilson – Member of Great Britain’s wrestling delegations to the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics

Walter Wilson, born in 1884, represented Great Britain in the light-heavyweight, freestyle wrestling events at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics, being eliminated in the quarterfinals and round one respectively. He began his career as a middleweight, but went on to capture national titles in 1922 and 1923 as a light-heavyweight. Although he is typically known as Walter G. Wilson, he was sometimes referred to during his career as G. Wilson or G. W. Wilson. Given that the only well-known amateur/professional Walter Wilson wrestler of the era can be ruled out as the Olympian, even this competitor’s name is uncertain.

John Davis – Member of Great Britain’s wrestling delegation to the 1924 Paris Olympics

John Davis, born in 1893, represented Great Britain in the welterweight, freestyle wrestling event at the 1924 Paris Games, where he was eliminated in the quarterfinals. Davis had won the national middleweight, freestyle title in 1921, before switching to welterweight and capturing the British crown in 1922 and 1923. Due to the common nature of his name, however, we have been unable to learn more about him.

Sonny Darby – Member of Great Britain’s wrestling delegation to the 1924 Paris Olympics

Harry “Sonny: Darby, born in 1902, represented Great Britain in the bantamweight, freestyle wrestling event at the 1924 Paris Games, where he was eliminated in the quarterfinals. He won one national title in 1925, but remained active in the sport for many years. We suspect that he may have been Henry Darby, a cable layer from Bolton who was born September 22, 1902 and died in Q3 1971, but we have been unable to confirm this with certainty.

(A photograph of the 1924 British Olympic cycling delegation, which presumably includes Thomas Harvey)

Thomas Harvey – Member of Great Britain’s cycling delegation to the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics

Thomas Harvey, born in 1888, represented Great Britain in three track cycling events across two editions of the Games – 1920 and 1924 – but did not reach the podium. A World War I veteran, he was the British national tandem winner in 1921 and 1922 but unfortunately, due to his common name, we have been unable to identify him any further. One possibility is Thomas Henry Harvey, born July 3, 1888 in St. Martins, London and died March 20, 1965, but this is primarily a guess.

Joe Williams – Member of Great Britain’s track and field delegation to the 1924 Paris Olympics

Joe Williams, born in 1897, represented Great Britain in the cross-country running event at the 1924 Paris Games, but dropped out less than halfway through due to the heat. A member of the Hallhamshire Harriers of Sheffield, he became a coach with the club in the 1940s and served as its president from 1968 through 1975. While his common name makes him difficult to identity, he is possibly the Joseph Edward Williams who was born December 15, 1897 in Sheffield and died in Q2 1976 in the same city.

Finally, we wanted to end with some updates, beginning with a thank you to the contributor who pointed out that the date of death suggested for Mexican wrestler David Pimentel in our last post was likely an error, as it was the same date of death for Portuguese bishop David Dias Pimentel, who died on the same day. They also provided evidence that Imre Holényi did in fact die at some point in 2020, as noted in that same post.

Also from our last post, Horacio Macchiavello was able to confirm that Juan Martín Merbilháa did in fact die on May 28, 1972 and was born December 11, 1925. He also sent us news of two more recent Argentinian deaths among the oldest Olympians: Juan Caviglia, born November 28, 1929, who took part in the Olympic gymnastics tournaments in 1952 and 1960, died January 17, while León Genuth, born August 5, 1931, who represented Argentina in the middleweight, freestyle wrestling event at the 1952 Helsinki Games, died March 10. Finally, from a much older blog post, Diego Rossetti was able to prove that Italian wrestler Pietro Marascalchi did indeed die on April 16, 2019.

Recent Olympic Missing Links

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to raise the cases of some Olympic missing links that we have found since the beginning of the year. Unlike our last entry on this topic, these individuals were not born in 1932, but have come up as a result of recent research.

Lyuben Gurgushinov – Member of Bulgaria’s track and field athletics delegation to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

Lyuben Gurgushinov, born November 2, 1931, represented Bulgaria in the triple jump at the 1964 Tokyo Games, where he finished 27th in the qualifying round and did not advance. He was also selected for the 1960 Rome Olympics, but did not start the event. Outside of this, we do not know much about him, but someone added a date of death of March 17, 2008 and a place of death of Sofia to English Wikipedia page. Unfortunately, we have been unable to verify this information.

David Pimentel – Member of Mexico’s weightlifting delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

David Pimentel, born December 2, 1927, represented Mexico in the middleweight weightlifting event at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he failed to record a mark in the clean and jerk portion and thus did not place in the competition. He had better luck at the Central American and Caribbean Games, where he won a bronze medal in that category. Someone added a date of death of March 16, 2021 to his English Wikipedia page, but we have not seen an obituary that would support this.

Juan Martín Merbilháa – Member of Argentina’s equestrian delegation to the 1956 Stockholm Equestrian Olympics

Juan Martín Merbilháa, born in 1925, represented Argentina in equestrian eventing at the 1956 Stockholm Equestrian Games, placing eighth individual and sixth with the team. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Merbilháa was a career military man, and an individual of the same name and roughly the correct age, 46, died May 30, 1972 in La Plata. Without more information, however, we cannot make a definite connection to the Olympian.

(Imre Holényi, pictured at the Hungarian Olympic Committee website)

Imre Holényi – Member of Hungary’s sailing delegation to the 1960 Rome Olympics

Imre Holényi, born January 15, 1926, represented Hungary in Flying Dutchman class sailing at the at the 1960 Rome Games, where he placed 13th in a field of 31 entrants. He won several national championships and, by career, was a chemical engineer with a lengthy and distinguished tenure. We were able to confirm that he was living as of June 2020, at the age of 94, but an anonymous edit on the English Wikipedia claimed that he died later that year in Spain, where he was known to have retired. Despite being fairly well-known, we have yet to see an indication elsewhere that this is the case.

José Ferreira – Member of Portugal’s fencing delegations to the 1952 and 1960 Summer Olympics

José Ferreira, born May 7, 1923, represented Portugal in five fencing events across two editions of the Summer Games, 1952 and 1960, but only advanced beyond the first round once, in the individual épée in 1960. His name is fairly common, but an infantry colonel with his full name –José da Silva Pinto Ferreira – died July 1, 2013. While this seems to be a likely occupation for a fencer, the obituary does not contain an age, and thus we cannot confirm a connection to the Olympian.

Finally, we wanted to share some updates on previous cases. Patrick Secchi was able to find sufficient evidence that the main subject of last week’s post, M. Chapuis, was indeed Marcel Chapuis, who was born January 15, 1901 and died June 15, 1952. Connor Mah, meanwhile, was able to confirm that American wrestler Bill Borders did die on January 27 in Tulsa, per an estate notice. Finally, Diego Rossetti was able to confirm an Olympic medal mystery that we posted a long time ago: Italian water polo bronze medalist Renato Traiola died January 18, 1988.

M. Chapuis

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to share a brief mystery that seems pretty clear, but is missing a final piece of the puzzle. It concerns the French boxing delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Games, a group for whom we have fairly uneven information. In particular, however, we wanted to focus on a reserve with the team that is listed as “M. Chapuis”.

M. Chapuis was France’s reserve boxer in the bantamweight tournament in Amsterdam. The nation’s starter in that category was Ernest Mignard, who received a bye in round one and then lost to Jack Garland of Great Britain in his first bout. Mignard turned professional before the year was out and had a career that lasted through 1937, when he retired with a record of 18-27-5.

(Marcel Chapuis, pictured at Boxer List)

So who was M. Chapuis and would he have fared any better? We believe that he was actually Marcel Chapuis, who embarked on his own professional bantamweight career beginning in September 1929. His career lasted until the beginning of 1935, and he retired with a 20-7-1 record. Even if we could make the connection for certain, however, he would still remain an Olympic mystery, as we have no birth and death information for Marcel, or even an age that could help guide our research.

As we mentioned, the information we have on the 1928 French boxing delegation is somewhat uneven. For example, we know that light-heavyweight Robert Forquet, who also competed in 1924, was born May 6, 1905, but we lack a date for his death. For his compatriots who also never turned professional, featherweight Georges Boireau and Michel Langlet (also a 1924 non-starter), we lack a date of birth or even an approximate age. Welterweight Robert Galataud, who lost the bronze medal match, did turn professional in 1929 and had a 13-12-5 career through 1932, although we do not have any information about his personal life either.

For the remaining reserves, with the exception of 1924 Olympic bronze medalist Jean Ces, we know even less, and have only two full names. Heavyweight Marcel Moret, possibly born c. 1909, had a 19-17-1 professional career that ended in a loss for the French heavyweight title in 1933. Lightweight Robert Frédéric, meanwhile, had no professional career that we know of. Flyweight A. Hummel might have been the professional boxer Hummele, whose 3-2-2 career lasted from 1929 through 1932, but we cannot say for certain. Of middleweight G. Genet and light-heavyweight G. Guillotin, we know nothing at all.

Finally, we wanted to thank Horacio Hernan Macchiavello, who confirmed that Argentine rower Juan Carlos Gómez, born May 9, 1932, who we thought may have died in 1982, actually died rather recently, on March 22, 2021, at the age of 88.

1932 Olympic Missing Links

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to engage a topic that we have not discussed for a while: Olympic missing links. In particular, we want to look at those individuals who were born in 1932 and for whom we think we have found information on their date of death, but cannot make the connection for certain. We have six such Olympians on our list.

Konstantinos Papadimas – Member of Greek’s basketball squad at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Konstantinos “Kostas” Papadimas, born in 1932, represented Greece in the basketball tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where his nation was eliminated in the qualification round. The team had better luck at the 1955 Mediterranean Games, where it won a bronze medal, and it also competed at the 1951 edition. Domestically, Papadimas played for Panellinios B.C. and won national championships in 1953, 1955, and 1957. The Greek Wikipedia lists him as having died in May 2021, at the age of 89, but we have not seen any reports to confirm this.

Simon Tait – Member of Great Britain’s sailing delegation to the 1972 Munich Olympics

Simon Tait, born October 31, 1932, represented Great Britain in Dragon class sailing at the 1972 Munich Games and placed 12th. A member of the Oxford & Cambridge Sailing Society, he was prolific domestically and internationally, competing at the European Championships in the 1960s. The death of a Simon Tait, born October 31, 1931, was registered at Kensington & Chelsea, London, England in February 1997, but we have thus far been unable to confirm that this is the Olympian.

(Sadegh Ali Akbarzadeh Khoi, pictured at the top left at Boxing Iran)

Sadegh Ali Akbarzadeh Khoi – Member of Iran’s boxing delegations to the 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics

Sadegh Ali Akbarzadeh Khoi, born September 3, 1932, represented Iran in two editions of the Olympic bantamweight boxing tournament, being eliminated in his first bout in both 1960 and 1964. A member of the national team from 1957 through 1964, he was a featherweight at the 1958 Asian Games, before moving up to bantamweight. He is definitely deceased, and English Wikipedia has a year of death of 2007, but we have not been able to confirm that for certain.

Juan Carlos Gómez – Member of Argentina’s rowing delegations to the 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympics

Juan Carlos Gómez, born May 9, 1932, represented Argentina in two editions of the Olympic rowing tournament, coming in 12th in the double sculls in 1964 and 8th in the coxed fours in 1968. He had much more success at the Pan American Games, winning the coxless fours in 1951 and 1955 and coming in second in the coxed fours in 1967. An individual of this name and the correct age died December 17, 1982 in La Plata but, because his name is fairly common, we cannot say for certain that this is the Olympian.

Camilo Pedro – Member of Hong Kong’s sport shooting delegation to the 1976 Montreal Olympics

Camilo Pedro, born August 3, 1932, represented Hong Kong in the free pistol, 50 meters shooting event at the 1976 Montreal Games, where he placed 46th. Unlike most of the names on this list, we do not know much about him, although an individual with this name and date of birth died in Millbrae, San Mateo, California on September 12, 2004. Unfortunately, since we know of no connection between Pedro and the United States, we cannot confirm that this record is for the Olympian.

Fritz Vogelsang – Member of Switzerland’s athletics delegation to the 1960 Rome Olympics

Fritz Vogelsang, born November 17, 1932, represented Switzerland in the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Games, where he placed 11th. He was also selected for the 100 meters dash at 1956 Melbourne Olympics, but did not actually compete. He did, however, take part in the 1954 European Championships decathlon, placing 9th among 19 entrants. We located the grave of a Fritz Vogelsang, born 1932, who died in 2000 in Bottmingen, Switzerland, but we are unsure if this is the Olympian.