Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wittenberg dies at 91
NEW YORK -- Henry Wittenberg, an amateur wrestler who went undefeated for more than 300 matches and won a gold medal at the 1948 London Olympics, has died. He was 91.
His family said Wittenberg died Tuesday at his home in Somers, N.Y.
Wittenberg began wrestling at City College, becoming a star under the tutelage of coach Joe Sapora. He graduated in 1940 and went on to dominate national and international freestyle wrestling in his weight class while working as a New York City police officer.
With World War II canceling the Olympics, Wittenberg served in the Navy. He came back to win gold in the London Games at 191.5 pounds. His unbeaten streak ended when he won silver at the 1952 Helsinki Games, losing to Wiking Palm of Sweden in the title match.
Wittenberg won his eighth and final Amateur Athletic Union national title in 1952. He was also a two-time champion at the Maccabiah Games, the international competition for Jewish athletes in Israel.
He retired as policeman in 1954 and went on to coach wrestling at Yeshiva University and City College and guided the U.S. Greco-Roman team at the 1968 Mexico City Games. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1977.
Survivors include his son, Michael Wittenberg, and his daughter, Susan Wittenberg. His wife died in 2008.