Biography of All-Around Athlete Richard Perry Williams Part 2

About the all-around athlete Richard Perry Williams, history and biography of the English sports prodigy.


The All-around Wonder

Williams's best sport, though, was probably handball. He retired from professional competition in 1930 after holding the professional handball championship for 30 years, and it is reported that between 1900, when he was 26, and 1948, when he was 74, he played 14,659 games of one-wall handball without losing a single game.

Williams was not a big man. He was weighed and measured in 1900 at Harvard University and came in at 5 ft. 9 in. and 141 lb. Two years later, though, he went to Boston to see the famous vaudeville strongman Eugene Sandow perform. He made a point of becoming personally acquainted with Sandow and became interested in becoming as strong as possible. Through several years of systematic weight training, he built himself up to 160 lb. and was able to improve on most of his records, especially those requiring strength.

In addition to being a great all-around athlete, Doc Williams was also evidently a great all around coach. After leaving Tufts, he coached at Wittenberg University in Springfield, O., where the campus newspaper reported in 1930 that his track teams had won 221 of 227 meets; that his basketball teams had won 1,016 games and 21 championships; that his football teams had won 321 games and 16 championships; that his high school, college, and club baseball teams had won 426 out of 466 games; and that he had led 35,775 physical education classes in which he had taught over 125,000 people.

It is impossible to tell whether or not Williams's records are authentic. It certainly would not be the first time that an athlete has been slighted because he was at odds with the powers that be in his sport; nor would it be the only example of an athlete ahead of his time and towering over his competition. On the other hand, if the marks are incorrect, it wouldn't be the only time that inaccurate and fraudulent marks were published and accepted by some people as truth.

When R. P. Williams died in 1966 at the age of 92, the world may have lost its greatest all-around athlete. But we'll never know.

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