Born in Detroit and raised in Chicago, Avery Brundage competed in the Stockholm 1912 Olympic Games in the pentathlon and decathlon. While he did not earn a medal – American teammate Jim Thorpe won the gold in both events – it marked the start of Brundage’s involvement in the Olympic Movement.
Brundage founded a successful construction business, but it was his contribution to the Olympics for which he was best known.
Brundage rose to become head of the American Olympic Association and subsequently was elected to the International Olympic Committee. In 1952, he was elected president of the IOC, a position he held for 20 years.
Brundage was adamant that only amateur athletes could participate in the Olympics. He also felt strongly that the Olympics should not be commercialized. As head of the national and international Olympic bodies, he often was in the news for controversial decisions made by the organizations.
Brundage died in 1975. He was 87 years old.