The International Swimming Hall of Fame is proud to honor an international member of the sports community who has devoted his life to the success of sport throughout the world.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1916, Joao Havelange was destined to spend his life participating in and servicing for sport. By the age of fifteen in 1931, he was the Junior Futbol Champion. But that was not enough, and he worked on his swimming to become the Brazilian and South American Swimming Champion, traveling to Berlin, Germany with Hall of Famer Maria Lenk to compete in the 1936 Olympic Games.
He loved swimming and at the age of 36, being a keen sportsman and competitor, he represented Brazil on its Olympic Water Polo team of 1952, which played in Helsinki. He received the 1951 Pan American Games silver medal. At the 1956 Olympic Games, Mr. Havelange was the Chef de Mission of the Brazilian Olympic Team, competing in Melbourne, Australia.
After retiring from competitive sports, Joao Havelange dedicated his life to sports administration, occupying various important positions at national and international levels. He served as president or director of thirteen swimming, water polo, soccer and sports organizations.
Between 1958 and 1974, he was president of the Brazilian Sports Confederation, responsible for taking care of 23 different sports disciplines, including thirteen Olympic sports. In 1955, as a founding member, he entered the Brazilian Olympic Committee, becoming a lifetime member in 1963. In 1963, he was selected the Brazilian representative for the International Olympic Committee with lifetime membership.
His involvement did not stop here. In 1974, in Frankfurt, Germany, Mr. Havelange was elected president of the world's largest sports federation: Federation International de Futbol Association - FIFA. This organization administers the sport of soccer throughout the world. Because of his accomplishments and respect by the world's soccer leaders, Mr. Havelange was elected to this position again in Buenos Aires 1978, Madrid 1982, Mexico 1986, Rome 1990, and New York 1994.
In 1994, under his presidency, FIFA promoted the World Cup of soccer to be played in the U.S.A.. Because of this commitment, the New York Chamber of Commerce selected Mr. Havelange as "Man of the Year," and the City of Dallas voted him their "Honorary Citizen."
Joao Havelange uses his world sports leadership not only to promote sports, but also to help smaller and underdeveloped countries to start and grow in sports, contributing to better understanding. His personal emphasis on promoting sports and using it as a tool to help countries as well as individuals, has led to his nomination as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.
His readiness to help less fortunate and needy countries earned him many honors. He has been decorated in over eighteen countries throughout the world. He has received over 34 foreign decorations in Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Italy, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Morocco, Portugal and the United States, 33 honorary citizenships, 150 sports titles and honoraries, and over 129 diplomas and honors from the many organizations throughout the world who recognize his contributions to sport and to youth.
Today, the International Swimming Hall of Fame recognizes his many contributions, and because of his humble beginnings in our disciplines of swimming and water polo, we welcome Mr. Joao Havelange as the International Swimming Hall of Fame Gold Medallion Recipient.
Recipients of the Gold Medallion Award.