Oberlander, Fred : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Oberlander, Fred


Country Represented:
Great Britain

Years Competed:
1936 (boycott as Austrian)
1948 (Great Britain)

Olympic Info:
Oberlander was nominated to represent Austria at the 1936 Olympic Games, but refused to participate, writing: "For obvious reasons, being Jewish, I refused." After emigrating to England, he was the captain of the English wrestling team at 1948 London Olympics.

Career Highlights:
Oberlander won the gold medal at the 1935 European Championships. At the World Championships that year, he was listed as 'stateless.' At the competition, his first match was against German champion Kurt Siebert and Oberlander said: "The German coach objected to the Hakoah (of Vienna) emblem on my wrestling attire, claiming that it was a political insignia. I answered that it was my club's emblem, which it was. Finally, the referee decided that the Swastika on Siebert's jersey was also a political insignia. On that note, the match began -- and finished in my favor."

Between 1930-1950, Oberlander won two Austrian junior titles, five French heavyweight titles, seven British heavyweight titles, and the 1950 Canadian heavyweight title. He emigrated to Canada (after first moving to Great Britain) and helped found the Canadian Maccabi Association. Fred was captain and flag-bearer for the Canadian team at the 1950 Maccabiah Games, the first in which Canada participated. At the 1953 Maccabiah Games, Oberlander won the gold medal in the heavyweight class, and was named "Outstanding Jewish World Athlete."

In 1974, Oberlander was named to the Canadian Amateur Sports Hall of Fame; he is also a member of the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association Hall of Fame and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. An entire floor in the Pierre Gildesgame (Maccabi) Sport Museum in Israel is named in honor of Oberlander. His son, Phil Oberlander, competed in the Olympics for Canada in 1964.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 23, 1911 - d. 1996

Vienna, Austria

Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.

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Great Jews in Sports by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)

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