Samuel Norton Gerson

Is your surname Gerson?

Research the Gerson family

Samuel Norton Gerson 's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Samuel Norton Gerson (Gaisin)

Also Known As: "Sam", "Shlome"
Birthdate: (76)
Death: September 30, 1972 (76) (Heart attack)
Immediate Family:

Son of Nuta Gaison
Husband of Mollie Malca Gerson
Father of Jack Gerson; Henry Gerson and Le Ray Gerson

Managed by: Pam Karp
Last Updated:

About Samuel Norton Gerson

Samuel Norton "Sam" Gerson (November 30, 1895 – September 30, 1972) was a Ukrainian-born American wrestler. He was born in Tymky, Poltava Oblast, Russian Empire, and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He competed in the 1920 Summer Olympics, for the United States. He won the Olympic silver medal in the freestyle wrestling featherweight class after losing the final to Charles Ackerly.

One of the organizers of Philadelphia's Maccabi Sports Club, Gerson was inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in the class of 2006. Dr. George Eisen of Nazareth College included Rybak on his list of Jewish Olympic Medalists. Gerson contended that discrimination against him because of his Jewish background cost him the gold medal, based on what he said he said he had been told by a competition official at the games. A determined supporter of the Olympics as a means of fostering peace between nations, Gerson's death from a heart attack on September 30, 1972, was said to have been precipitated by the Munich Massacre of 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team at the 1972 Summer Olympics by members of the Black September organization.

See also List of select Jewish wrestlers

References Class of 2006: Wrestling, Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Accessed February 3, 2011. Eisen, George. "Jewish Olympic Medalists", International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Accessed February 2, 2011. Samuel Norton Gerson (1895 -1972), University of Pennsylvania. Accessed February 3, 2011.



Samuel Norton Gerson, born in Russian Ukraine on November 30, 1895, immigrated to the United States at the age of eleven to live with relatives in South Philadelphia. Knowing very little English, Gerson attended night school to learn the language and worked to earn his keep. He adjusted quickly to his new school and neighborhood. Under his leadership, Southern High School won an unprecedented three chess championships. He participated in many athletic teams and was captain of his school baseball team, but it would be for his prowess in a different sport that he would soon gain major recognition.

In 1916 Gerson received a scholarship to study at the University of Pennsylvania. During his years at Penn he was active on the chess team, serving as its captain his senior year. According to the 1920 yearbook, Gerson was also a member of the Civil Engineering Society. Athletically, he developed into a top wrestler, winning every bout his senior year. His win in the bantamweight class at the Middle Atlantic Amateur Athletic Association Wrestling Championship led to a berth on the U.S. Olympic Team.

At the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium Samuel won a silver medal in the featherweight class of freestyle wrestling. He left with a bad feeling about the games, however, after allegedly being told by an official after the match that he may have been unfairly prejudiced because he was Jewish.

After the games and his graduation from Penn in 1920 with a degree in chemical engineering, he moved the rest of his family from Budapest, Hungary, to the United States with him. He also began his career as an engineer. Samuel Gerson was a firm believer that the Olympic Games were a peace movement and that Olympians had the opportunity to foster peace rather than war. In 1945, thanks in part to this ideal, Gerson founded a group in Philadelphia named the Olympians International that was focused on fostering peaceful relationships between countries through their athletic associations. The group started out rather humbly but soon grew to include members from all around the globe and has become a much respected association of former Olympians. Gerson continued his involvement with the Olympics for many years and attended many more games before dying in 1972, only a month after the Munich games. The murders of eleven Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists upset Gerson very much and were said to have contributed to his death of a heart attack on September 30, 1972.



view all

Samuel Norton Gerson's Timeline

November 30, 1895
Age 31
Age 35
Age 40
September 30, 1972
Age 76