Ray Barbuti

An athlete who divided his passions equally – and triumphantly – between All-American football and Olympic track and field.

Born June 6, 1905 in Brooklyn, New York, Ray Barbuti developed a hometown toughness at an early age, and parlayed this toughness into track and football victory.

As a student at Syracuse University in the early 1920s, Barbuti’s passion was divided between football and track and field. In fact, the All-American halfback’s tough tackling at times incurred injuries that prevented him from competing in track and field events.

Nonetheless, the six-foot, 185-pound Barbuti was selected National Inter-Collegiate Champion in the 220- and 440-yard dashes and National Champion for 400-meter runners.

Barbuti triumphed at the 1928 Olympic games, where he won two gold medals–one each for the 400- and 1,600-meter track events. He was the only American to win gold in individual track and field events that year.

Barbuti went on to become an intelligence operative during World War II and a top NCAA football official. He was elected into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.