1928 Swiss Olympic Wrestling Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to cover some Swiss Olympic mysteries from the 1928 Amsterdam Games that we have not yet addressed and for whom we cannot prove definitively that they are deceased (although, given their age, all of them almost certainly are). As we have mentioned in the past, Switzerland is unusual in that it is a European nation for whom biographical data is somewhat limited, particularly in the early years. Thus we have more names than usual to cover and must split them up. Today, we are going to focus on the wrestling delegation.

(Ernst Kyburz)

Switzerland was relatively successful in the wrestling tournaments at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Of its 11 wrestlers, three won medals, although even among the medalists we do not have complete data. For Olympic champion Ernst Kyburz, who won the middleweight, freestyle competition, we are missing his place of birth. For the runner-up in the light-heavyweight division, Arnold Bögli, we know only that he was born on May 30, 1897 and nothing about his later life. Similarly, for Hans Minder, a featherweight, freestyle bronze medalist, we have a date of birth of August 28, 1908 and nothing else. In fact, the only 1928 Swiss wrestler for whom we have complete data is Henri Wernli, who was fifth in the heavyweight, freestyle competition, but had won a silver medal in that event in 1924.

We know nothing about the remaining wrestlers and for only one of them, Fritz Käsermann, who was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the welterweight, freestyle event, do we have certain confirmation that they are deceased. Of the rest, Amedée Piguet of Le Brassus, who took part in the bantamweight, freestyle competition, was arguably the most successful, as he placed sixth, although this is due primarily to the limited number of competitors in his division. Hans Mollet of Biel, who placed seventh in the lightweight, freestyle tournament, might be considered more successful, as he was eliminated in the semi-finals of a much larger pool.

Otto Frei of Schaffhausen, in the middleweight, Greco-Roman competition, was the only other Swiss wrestler to win a bout, ultimately being eliminated in round three. Isidor Bieri (featherweight), Ernst Mumenthaler of Zürich (lightweight), and Max Studer of Tablat (light-heavyweight) were all eliminated after losing two Greco-Roman bouts.

These are enough names to consider for now, but we will raise the remainder of the Swiss cases in a forthcoming post. We do, however, have an update on a Swiss case that we have covered in the past, as we were able to confirm that equestrian Hermann Dür, born June 23, 1925, did die on August 25, 2015.

Henri Niemegeerts

Today on Oldest Olympians we have a quick blog entry, one that concerns an Olympian who may be alive at the age of 100, but we have yet to be able to prove it. The information that we do have comes courtesy of Connor Mah.

Belgian field hockey player Henri Niemegeerts, born February 15, 1922, represented his country in the tournament at the 1948 London Games, where Belgium was eliminated in the preliminary round after losing its matches against the Netherlands and Pakistan, but defeating Denmark and France. Outside of this, we do not know much about him, but he was definitely alive in 2013 according to this report.

After that, the information becomes less clear. There was an individual by this name living in Waterloo, Belgium as recently as 2015 whose biographical details align with the Olympic hockey player. When the Olympian’s wife died in September 2020, her obituary did not designate her as a widow, which is done commonly on the site where her death was announced. Beyond that, we do not have any additional clues, and there has been no announcement of a 100th birthday.

That is all that we have for today, but we did want to point out two recent removals from our lists that we have not yet addressed, as we learned about their deaths a considerable time after they occurred. Danish handballer Poul Winge, born September 13, 1927, who took part in the demonstration tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, died March 2, 2020 at the age of 92. Indian water polo player David Sopher, born February 1, 1929, who took part in that sport’s tournament at that same edition of the Olympics, died February 14, 2019, shortly after his 90th birthday.