A two-time Olympian for the United States' men's gymnastics team, Grossfeld first competed at the 1956 Melbourne Games. While the U.S. finished sixth overall in the team competition (271.5 points, only 5 points behind Czechoslovakia for the bronze medal), Grossfeld finished in 39th place in the individual all-around competition (107.75 points). During the Games, he also placed 13th in the horizontal bar, 23rd in the free-standing exercise, 34th in the rings, 48th in the parallel bars, and 52nd in the pommel horse.
Four years later, at the 1960 Olympics, the U.S. team finished fifth and Grossfeld placed 36th in the all-around. After retiring from international competition, Abie coached the American gymnasts at the 1964, 1972, 1984, and 1988 Olympics. His 1984 team, with Mitch Gaylord, won the combined exercises championship.
Grossfeld had a terrific gymnastics career before he became a coach. After finishing second in the individual all-around at the 1957 NCAA Championships (he attended the University of Illinois, class of 1960), Abie competed in the World Championships in 1958, finishing seventh in the team competition and 53rd in the individual all-around.
Four years later, Grossfeld again competed in the World Championships, when the U.S. team placed sixth and Grossfeld finished 85th in the all-around. He had more success at the Pan American Games, competing in 1955, 1959, and 1963 where he won 15 medals (eight golds), including the gold in the individual all-around in 1959. Grossfeld also dominated the Maccabiah Games in 1953, 1957, and 1965, winning a combined 17 gold medals!
After retiring from competition, Grossfeld turned to coaching and became a legend. He served as head coach of U.S. men's gymnastics team at five World Championships (1966, 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1987), and head coach of the U.S. team at Pan American Games in 1983 and 1987. He was also the head coach of the men's team at the 1986 Goodwill Games, and coached the U.S. gymnasts in three Maccabiah Games: 1973, 1977, and 1981. During this time, he also coached at Southern Connecticut State University, helping the program become one of the best in the country; he was chosen NCAA National Coach of the Year three times.
In 1979, he was elected to the National Gymnastics Hall of Fame and was named Gymnastics Federation Coach of the Year in 1984. Grossfeld, who established the first gymnastics program at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1962, is, as of 2001, the head coach at Southern Connecticut State. Abie Grossfeld Circle became the name of a street in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1979. Grossfeld is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. March 1, 1934
New York City
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
New York Times, November 23-December 8, 1956