George Nissen was born in Blairstown, Iowa.
One of four children of Franklin and Catherine Nissen,who where Mary,Paul & Betty Nissen. The family moved to Cedar Rapids when he was young, and he took up gymnastics and diving at the local YMCA.As a young man, George P. Nissen loved gymnastics. Seeing circus trapeze artists use their safety nets to bound in their dismount, he figured that would help him with his tumbling. So the help of his Iowa college coach, Larry Griswold in 1934, George built the prototype trampoline from angle iron with a canvas bed and rubber springs.
During 1937, while he was touring with fellow gymnasts at fairs across the United States and Mexico, he heard the Spanish word ‘el trampolín‘, which meant springboard. He now had a name in an English version of trampoline for his bouncing apparatus. With his coach Griswold, they formed a company in Iowa to manufacture and sell these trampolines in 1941. Nissen continued to promote the trampoline across the U.S. and the world. He eventually wanted it to become a recognized sport.
It was included for the first time in the Olympics in the year 2000. In China at the 2008 Olympics, George Nissen visited Beijing to watch the sport he help originate.
He died in San Diego California on April 7, 2010 at the age of 96 from complications from pneumonia.
He is survived by his wife, Annie, a Dutch acrobat whom he met in 1950 while she was performing for the Cole Brothers Circus in the US, and two daughters, Dagmar and Dian.
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