Question of the Week: Do you have any extraordinary athletes in your family?

+17 votes

I bet there are more than a few of you out there who have connections to former olympic athletes, or perhaps you've found some high school or college sports stars in your branches.

Did you know we have a category for extraordinary athletes? Check out the Sports Category. There are subcategories for everything from Archery to Wrestling, and if you can't find the sport you need, add it! 

Curling, anyone?




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asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (257k points)

My uncle by marriage, John Rupert Mudge, was a champion Australian Rugby League player in the 1950s. He was bought by Workington Town In the UK and took one of the early commercial flights from Sydney to London. It took several days!!!! 

Here is what Wikipedia says of him;

John "Rupert" Mudge (1928–1993) was an Australian rugby league player. He played both rugby codes in SydneyNew South Wales as well as playing rugby league in England. Rupert John Mudge played for the Randwick rugby union club in his junior years before being recruited by English rugby league club, Workington Town, where he was joined by fellow Australian recruit Tony Paskins. While in England, he played at representative level for British Empire, and Other Nationalities.

Mudge was coached by former Great Britain rugby league test captain, Gus Risman. A back-rower, or prop, Rupert Mudge played left-second-row, i.e. number 11, and scored a tryinWorkington Town's 18-10 victory over Featherstone Rovers in the 1952 Challenge Cup Final during the 1951–52 season at Wembley StadiumLondon on Saturday 19 April 1952, in front of a crowd of 72,093.[1]

Three Australian footballers were in the Workington Town side, including Rupert, Tony Paskins, and Bevan Wilson. They played the match in front of Anthony Eden, who was Foreign Minister in the Government and Rupert John Mudge scored the longest ever running try at Wembley, which was the turning point in the match. It was then added to when Aussie team mate Tony Paskins, and George Wilson together scored another try in the final minutes of the game and Workington Town team beat Featherstone and won.[2]

Rupert Mudge played left-second-row, i.e. number 11, in Workington Town's 12-21 defeat by Barrow in the 1955 Challenge Cup Final during the 1954-55 season at Wembley StadiumLondon on Saturday 30 April 1955, in front of a crowd of 66,513.

In 1955 both Mudge and Paskins returned to Australia where they joined the Eastern Suburbs rugby league team, Paskins was appointed captain. Mudge who played 45 matches for the Eastern Suburbs club in the years (1955–58) is recognised as that clubs 448th player.

After his retirement from football Rupert spent some years as a panelist on the Channel Seven Rugby League panel discussion program "Controversy Corner" hosted by Rex (the Moose) Mossop.

In his professional life in Australia, besides football, he worked for P.Rowe Pty. Ltd.

He married his Australian sweetheart, Yvonne Rita Trenerry, who had followed him to England in Workington Town where they lived until 1955 when they returned to Australia to live at Coogee Beach. They had two children, Barbara and John.

In the late 1990s Rupert John Mudge was invited to England for a special celebration at Wembley Stadium, because he still held the record for the longest running try. Returning home happy he succumbed to the cancer which claimed his life in six short weeks. He died at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney on the 23 July 1993. He was cremated at Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.[3

We all grew up proud of our uncle, who was on tv each week.


I should also say that  my dad, Douglas Arthur Cox(1929-93), missed by 0.2 of a second qualifying for the New Zealand Cycling Team in the 1950 Commonwealth Games held in Auckland New Zealand. He was given a certificate, though, for being part of the training team.
Distant cousins include Tom Landry, Ty Cobb, and Mickey Mantle.
My grandfather was an Australian champion Wrestler his name was Claude Angelo he represented Australia at the 1924 Olympics

22 Answers

+12 votes
A cousin, Jacob Gill Gaudaur, was a world champion singles oarsman for several years.

"On July 2, 1898, Jake Gaudaur raced Bob Johnson for the World Championship in Vancouver. Johnson's boat struck a log and Gaudaur won - however Gaudaur agreed to re-row the race on the following day and he again won.
answered by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
That's a great story, Frank! Pretty honorable of him to agree to a rematch.
He first won the world singles sculling championship in 1896 and retained the title for five years. His son, Jacob Gill Gaudaur, Jr. was born within one day of my father in October 1920. Both trace back to Jacob Charles Gill born 1794, their 2nd great grandfather, and neither knew of the other cousin during their lifetimes.
Don't forget your other cousins Frank that include: Harry Gill, the Best All Around Athlete (the precursor to the Decathalon) who invented much of the equipment used in the Olympics for track and field. His firm, Gill Sports, still operates. He was a famous coach of Athletics in the U.S. and introduced the NCAA as a way for colleges to compete in athletics.

Your other cousins who were athletes include Charles Gaudaur, Champion Oarsman of North America 1902 and also a professional wrestler.

Jake Gaudaur, Jr. Canadian Junior Champion Oarsman, football player, coach, and Commissioner of the Canadian Football League.

Melissa Doyle, a descendent of Charles Gaudaur, who was Canadian Champion for the 15 km Open Water Swim and raced up to 32 kms in later years.

Francis Gaudaur 1819 to 1898, who was a runner between Holland Landing and Penetanguishene during the Rebellion of 1837 for the Indian Militia. He was Jake and Charles Gaudaur's father who married into the Gill family through Jennett
In the book, "The Place of the Fence" by Jacob Gill Gaudaur, Jr., there are a fair number of pages devoted to his father, Jacob Gill Gaudaur, Sr.

It includes his victory on the Thames River in London, England, in 1896 to win the World Professional Single Sculling Championship.

During his sculling years, Jake Gaudaur, Sr. established and lowered his own world record on four occasions.
+9 votes
Not extraordinary, no, but two of my father's half-uncles were professional footballers.
answered by I O G2G6 Pilot (217k points)

I think it's pretty extraordinary to be a professional athlete in any sport. Think of all those who try, but only the extraordinary succeed!

+8 votes
Well, I have a cousin (2nd?) who is Bob Trumpy tight end for the Cincinnati Bengals and later a color analyst on TV and radio including for several Super Bowls.  Another probable Cousin is David Wottle who won the Olympic Gold medal for 800 meters in 1972 He's the runner famous for wearing a floppy hat when he run.  He's from another Dardinger line I call the West Virginia Dardingers but I haven't proven the connection yet.
answered by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (366k points)
That's pretty cool, Dave! Do you know him personally, or did you discover this connection through genealogy?
+9 votes
answered by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)

Wow, Doug! One of two basketball players to win 4 championships "four championships with two different teams in consecutive seasons?" Amazing!

+9 votes
My grandfather Linley G Taylor claimed to be a cousin of New York Giants baseball player Carl Hubbell -- like so many family stories, it isn't true...
answered by Margaret Caton G2G3 (3.4k points)
But it's fun to think about. ;-)

If it makes you feel any better, there was a family story going around that our biological great grandfather -- who was a mystery to all of us -- was a French Opera singer.

Turns out he was not. He was a merchant who fathered the twins of his domestic servant. (One of these twins was my grandmother.)
+10 votes
I do. As those two are still living, I won't go in too many details, but one of them is considered the best known and most successful Rugby-player in his country (Rugby is a baby sport there though) and the other one became Olympic Champion in Athens 2004.
answered by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Mach 7 (73.5k points)
That's exciting, Jelena! If they have a Wikipedia page, you could share that with us since it's already public.
+9 votes
My stepbrother, Ron Acks, was a linebacker in the NFL for 10 years with Packers, Falcons, and Patriots. See I have him in WIkitree but as Private.
answered by Marty Acks G2G6 Mach 6 (69.3k points)
That's really cool, Marty!
+9 votes
Is sailing considered to be a sport?

If yes I have a young cousin who sailed around the world non stop and unassisted back in 2009-2010. She was just 16 years old at the time.
answered by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (465k points)
I certainly do think that Sailing is a sport! What a feat!
I see that we have Rowing as a category but no Sailing. Could someone please add Sailing as a category so that I add Jessica to that category?

If you want to differentiate, you can have Olympic sailing (which are basically short races) and other sailing (usually long races such as the Volvo Around the world race or the Americas cup competition) .

As I have one other profile that would also qualify under Sailing, but he's not related to me.
Robynne --

Looks like there is a Sailing category, but it's categorized under Boating. Here you go:
Boating?? What kind of old fashioned name is that? Noone uses that term at all these days. LOL  Thanks Julie.

Anyway. Now I would like for someone to tell me how to create a new sub-category as I can see several sub-categories are missing.

Solo Voyages,

Volvo Ocean Race (fornerly knowns as the Whitbread round the World Race),

Americas cup competition, etc etc.

Not forgetting Australian sailors, Sport.

New Zealand Sailors, Sport

But I guess i can just put my profiles into Boating for now!!
Awesome!!  There are now 2 new sailing profiles added to the Category of Sailing. Thanks Julie!!!
Ok - they dont make this easy to drill down for the sub categories do they?

Ok I found the Americas Cup category under Boat Racing (also shows up under Yacht racing as well!!) but there does not seem to be any Volvo Ocean race category.

And of course there is no category for Solo Voyages either!!

How do I get editing privileges so I can look after this category?  NZ has a HUGE Sailing and Yachting history!!
Join the Categorization project - I can do that!!  LOL
PS Thanks Julie. Much appreciated!!
+5 votes
I'll throw a second more distant one for me in whose birth surname I share. Max Lenover, was a Canadian world-class middle distance runner. He was selected for the 1940 Olympics which were canceled due to World War II.

We are fourth cousins, once removed.

One interesting aspect of researching people like Max is that you can chronologically piece together their lives from newspapers and many other public sources.
answered by Marty Acks G2G6 Mach 6 (69.3k points)

It is fun to be able to follow people like that. I have a couple of ancestors who were "famous" within their communities. It's fascinating to follow them and get to know them a little.

+5 votes
My son Kristopher McCarthy (Sugars-43) was in the Sydney 2000 Olympics in the 800 metres. He was only 20 and due to many injuries he didn't make it to the final, but 2 years later at the Commonwealth Games at Manchester Kris got a Bronze medal in the 800 metres. Very proud mum and I say he got that gene from me!
answered by Alison Coates G2G1 (1.5k points)
+5 votes
My grandmother's first cousin René Roothooft was Champion of France 3 times in the 1950s. He also has several national titles in doubles and mixed doubles. In table tennis. Don't laugh.
answered by Isabelle Rassinot G2G6 Pilot (218k points)
+5 votes
I have a picture of my grandfather Morrell Mathis in his baseball uniform with several other players from about 1912. He played first base for a sandlot team in Atlantic City. His cousin's son Ralph Scull qualified for the US 1940 Olympic team as a weightlifter but of course they were never played. Another distant cousin of my grandfather Martha Tice was married to Taylor Shafer who played for the Philadelphia A's in 1890. Taylor's brother Orator Shafer had a long career in the deadball era and is considered to have been among the best rightfielders of that time.
answered by Michael Guenther G2G2 (2.8k points)
+5 votes
My father-in-law Jim Ruckert was a WWII vet and a track coach at the University of Maryland. In 1961 he ran a race with a horse and a 1911 automobile.  The April 9th edition of the Baltimore Sun writes about it as "Man Outruns Horse and Car".  "Laurel Md., April 8 - The special race between a foot runner, horse and 1911 automobile was contested here today, and the foot runner, Jim Ruckert, was a galloping winner."  He is still with us at almost 93 and is in excellent health. He is an amazing man.
answered by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Mach 6 (67.7k points)
+4 votes
John Valentine Sigmund holds records for river swimming.  He has the fastest time for 50 miles (Alton IL to St. Louis MO) in just over 5 miles.  He made the same swim in 1939 in 6 hours with his arms shackled to his sides. In July a940, he swam 292 miles non-stop in 88 hours.  All these records stand today.
answered by Bill Sigmund G2G Crew (650 points)
+4 votes

My great-uncle, Ernest John Henley, a tailor by trade, was a keen amateur runner and lifelong member of Brighton and County Harriers . He was a bronze medal winner in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in the 4x400m relay - and the official 1912 Olympic Games book recounts how the British team would probably have won gold were it not for the fact that another of the team had injured an ankle:

At Stamford Bridge in the 1912 Olympic trials he was sent to run as second string to Tommy Adams, already known as a leading quarter-mile runner, in a 400 metres Olympic trial. He won that race in 49 seconds, on a slow track. He was selected for the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, and competed in the 800 metres and the 4 x 400m relay. He won his heat of the 800 metres, beating the Bavarian record-holder Hans Braun into second place: it was reported that Hans Braun commented "You are the only Englishman who has ever beaten me". 

He was also in the British team who won their heat in the 4 x 400m relay with a time of 3min 19 seconds, the best time in any of the heats. One of the team (the Rev. J.T. Soutter), slipped and sprained his ankle on leaving the arena after this triumph, and had to run (with a limp) in the final - substitutes were not allowed. Nevertheless the team finished a creditable third in the final, winning bronze - and had it not been for Soutter's injury would almost certainly have won the gold medal.

in 1920 he won the Sussex 880 yards championship, and went on to win the 880 yards Olympic trials at Preston Park and at Stamford Bridge. He was clearly the fastest half miler Britain had to offer. Yet he was not selected for the 1920 Olympic team - his place was taken by Philip Noel-Baker of Cambridge University.

I have a family link with another Olympian. Agnes Ethel Button, daughter of a younger brother of my great-grandmother married a Swedish sea-captain Victor Råst, and their youngest daughter Agnes Laura, married Johan Kellgren Areskoug who ran for Sweden in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics. and came 3rd in the 400 metres in the 1938 World Athletics competition.

answered by Stephen Henley G2G1 (1.1k points)
+4 votes

My side of the family is not athletically inclined, although we've been fans. However, my husband's great uncle was one of the top baseball pitchers of all time, Spurgeon "Spud" Chandler. 

Here is his obituary from the New York Times:

Spud Chandler, 82, Star Yankee Pitcher On 7 Pennant Clubs

Published: January 11, 1990

Spud Chandler, who was voted the American League's most valuable player in 1943 and was twice a 20-game winner for the Yankees, died Tuesday. He was 82 years old. The cause of death was not disclosed.

In an 11-year career, all with the Yankees, Chandler pitched for seven pennant winners and six World Series champions. He won 109 games and lost only 43 with a 2.84 earned run average. He never had a losing season, and no pitcher with as many innings pitched for a career, 1,485, had a better winning percentage than Chandler's .717.

In 1943, Chandler led the American League with a 20-4 record and a 1.64 earned run average, the best ever by a Yankee right-hander. That season he also won two games in the World Series as the Yankees defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in five games. Chandler pitched a 10-hit 2-0 shutout in the finale, which the Yankees won on Bill Dickey's two-run homer.

Played Football in College

Spurgeon (Spud) Chandler was born in Commerce, Ga., on Sept. 12, 1907. He attended the University of Georgia, where he was a halfback on the football team and pitched for the baseball team.

He was almost 30 years old before he broke into the major leagues with the Yankees in 1937, posting a 7-4 record. He was 10-4 in 1941 and 16-5 in 1942, both pennant-winning years for the Yankees. In 1946, Chandler had a 20-8 record and a 2.10 e.r.a. In the four World Series in which he appeared, Chandler won twice, lost twice and had a 1.62 e.r.a. for 33Y innings.

Chandler was named to the American League All-Star team four times and won the 1942 All-Star Game.

He is survived by his wife and two sons.

answered by Karen Fuller G2G6 (8.3k points)
+4 votes
Jim Northrup, now deceased, was my 3rd cousin.  He and my oldest brother were classmates at St. Louis High School in Michigan.   Jim played baseball for the Detroit Tigers and was voted the MVP for the 1968 World Series.  I guess that qualifies as an extraordinary athlete!
answered by
+2 votes
Shannon Miller, the most decorated female gymnast of all time. She's a 7th cousin via my Shockey side. Then saw a few NHL players & female Olympic soccer players on my Sperry side.
answered by Charlotte Shockey G2G6 Pilot (918k points)
+3 votes
[[Howe-2791|Sydenham Howe]] was an avid curler in Nova Scotia where the sport of curling was very popular. In 1875, Lord Dufferin instituted the Governor General's Prize, one of Canada's coveted curling trophies. Sydenham was skip of the Halifax Curling Club team that went to Ottawa in 1883 to compete for that prize. They lost to the Bluenose Club by 16 shots. Improvement clearly followed that defeat, for in 1886 Sydenham won the Royal Caledonian Curling Club medal for a points competition, setting a new world record when he scored 22 points. He repeated that score the next year. Rules for point competition in curling changed in 1888. Later, that form of competition in curling was abandoned.
answered by Judith Chidlow G2G6 Mach 1 (16k points)
+2 votes

My father's cousin's son is legendary kickboxer Jean-Yves Thériault. He won the Professional Karate Association Middleweight World title (Full-contact karate),and held it for 15 years.They called him "The Iceman" because of his cold stare. The National Film Board made a 1.5-hour film about him (see  Wikipedia page (see Unfortunately, I can't watch the film -- I just don't like fighting!

answered by Denise Chiasson G2G6 Mach 1 (17.2k points)

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