Sam Ramsamy  (RSA)

Honor Contributor (2023)

The information on this page was written the year of their induction.

FOR THE RECORD: INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: Member (1995-present); INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: Board Member (2006-2014); FINA/WORLD AQUATICS: First Vice-President (2021-present); FINA: Second Vice-President (2017-2021); FINA: Vice President (2004-2017); FINA: Bureau Member (1996-2004); SOUTH AFRICAN SWIMMING: President (1991-1996); NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE OF SOUTH AFRICA: President (1991-2004); Ramsamy led the first non-racial South African team to the Games of the XXV Olympiad in Barcelona, acting as General Manager and Chef de Mission; Member of the National Organizing Committee for the Inauguration of Nelson Mandela. 

World Aquatics Vice President Sam Ramsamy spent the early years of his life working toward the birth of a new South Africa. He fought for the eradication of the color ban in sport, creating unity in the sporting arena and advocating for the selection of teams that would be based on merit. Ramsamy insisted that athletes of all races must be given an equal opportunity to participate. He has continually put his homeland of South Africa and sport, swimming in particular, in front of everything else.

Ramsamy was born in Durban, South Africa in January 1938, He studied at the Springfield College of Education in Durban (RSA), the University of South Africa, the Carnegie College of Physical Education in Leeds (GBR) and received a law degree at the University of Toronto (CAN).

Ramsamy was the founding member of the South African Council for Sport, established in 1973. In 1976 he became Chairperson of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC) and in 1978 was named the Executive Chairman of SANROC. The two sports organizations were united in their purpose of pursuing an international sports ban on South Africa’s athletes and by doing so, fostered greater global support for the resistance against apartheid. Following the Soweto uprisings in 1976, Ramsamy was the mastermind of the sporting boycott of South Africa and petitioned countries to formalize the international campaign against apartheid with the adoption of the Gleneagles Agreement of 1977. 

After serving as a physical education teacher in London he became a consultant to the United Nations. Ramsamy provided impetus to the sports boycott from the late 1970’s onward. The boycott was effective in spreading awareness of the evils of apartheid to the rest of the world. His contributions with sport did not end with apartheid. During the transition to democracy, he encouraged international support for the black sports body, and became leader of the South Africa Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) in 1991. He led the first non-racial South African team to the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. 

He was the President of South African Swimming, 1991-1996; and was President of the South Africa Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) 1991-2004.

Ramsamy was elected to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1995 and served as a member of the IOC Board (2006-2014). Since turning 80 in 2018 he currently serves as an Honorary Member of the IOC. Mr. Ramsamy served or chaired on numerous IOC Commissions during his tenure.

Ramsamy’s work has also crossed over from sport into other areas, including politics. He was a member of the National Organizing Committee for the Inauguration of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. Ramsamy has met with heads of state of other nations and is considered one of the most well-respected men in South Africa. 

Currently, Ramsamy is the First Vice President of World Aquatics elected in May 2021, after previously serving as Second Vice-President (2017-2021). He first became a FINA Bureau Member in 1996 and was elected FINA Vice President in 2004. Ramsamy has over 60 year’s experience in sport beginning as an athlete in athletics, football and swimming.