Great Britain
TeamGreat Britain
Games Participations1
First Olympic GamesLondon 1948
Year of Birth1911


Fred Oberlander was born in Austria, but went to live in Paris as a youngster. A two-time Austrian junior wrestling champion, he was also the French heavyweight champion on five occasions. He was invited to represent Austria at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but politely refused on the grounds of being Jewish. The previous year, he had won the European title and also competed in the World Championships, when he was listed as “Stateless”. Oberlander moved to England in 1939 and became a wealthy company director. He also went on to add the British heavyweight title to his list of achievements, and won it seven years in succession between 1939-45. He added an eighth title in 1948, when he also captained the Great Britain wrestling team at the London Olympics. After emigrating to Canada, Oberlander won the Canadian heavyweight title in 1950 and that year represented his new country internationally, when he was Canada’s captain and flagbearer, at the Maccabiah Games (World Jewish Sports Festival) in Tel Aviv, where he lost in the heavyweight final to Denmark’s Um Peiken. Oberlander eventually won the Maccabiah gold medal, at the age of 42 in 1953, and was named the Outstanding Jewish Male Athlete of the Year. He was presented with his award by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. Oberlander was inducted into the Canadian Amateur Sports Hall of Fame in 1974, and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1991. His son Phil was also a wrestler, won a silver medal at the 1962 Commonwealth Games, and competed in the 1964 Olympics, representing Canada both times.

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