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Throwback: From bobbing and weaving to bobsleigh – Eagan’s Winter and Summer double

American Olympic boxer Eddie Eagan (1897 - 1967, right) sparring with the Marquess of Clydesdale (Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton, 1903 - 1973), circa 1925. As well as winning a gold medal in the light-heavyweight boxing at the 1920 Olympic games, Eagan also won gold in the four-man bobsled event at the 1932 Winter Olympics. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

February 15, 1932

Twelve years separate the two Olympic gold medals in the career of Eddie Eagan, but the lengthy gap between titles is not the most remarkable thing about his sporting achievements.

The American remains the only person in history to become an Olympic champion at both the Summer and Winter Games.

Eagan’s first Olympic foray came at the age of 23 at Antwerp 1920 where he represented the United States at boxing.

Fighting at light-heavyweight, he came away with the gold but failed to pick up a medal in his Olympic defence four years later, losing his very opening bout.

Prior to his Olympic bow, he had already served his country in the First World War as an artillery lieutenant and then studied law at Harvard University – where he became the university’s boxing captain. Eagan completed a second degree in England at Oxford University.

After Oxford, he travelled the world for two years taking on the best amateur boxer each country had, and returned home unbeaten.

Some years later, he was persuaded to try out for the bobsleigh team but, incredibly, had apparently never been in a bob before Lake Placid 1932.  Undeterred, he slotted comfortably in to the set-up and was part of a gold-winning quartet.

He again served his country when war broke out a second time around with Germany, this time as a lieutenant colonel.

Along with Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolph and Mark Spitz, he was among the first inductees into the US Olympic Hall of Fame.

 

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