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Glenn Cunningham

Photo of Glenn Cunningham

Inducted: 1974, athlete

Born: August 4, 1909 - Atlanta, Kansas
Deceased: March 10, 1988

Events
800 m - 1:49.70
1,500 m - 3:48.00
1 mi. - 4:04.40


An athlete who survived severe burns on his legs as a youth, Glenn Cunningham was one of the world's top middle distance runners during the 1930s, winning the prestigious Sullivan Award in 1933 as the nation's top amateur athlete. Cunningham first came to national attention as a senior at Elkhart (Kan.) High School, when he won mile titles at the Kansas Relays, state outdoor and National Interscholastic Meet, where he set a world prep record of 4:24.7. At Kansas University, he won six Big-6 mile runs, two NCAA titles and eight AAU national titles. His durability and versatility earned him the nickname, "Kansas Ironman." After winning the national collegiate and AAU championships in 1932, he placed fourth in the 1500 meters at the Los Angeles Olympics. He was even more successful in 1933, sweeping the 800 and 1500 meter runs at the AAU nationals, touring Europe and completing the season with an undefeated record in 20 races. The following year, he set a world one-mile record of 4:06.8 that stood for three years. At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he finished second to Jack Lovelock of New Zealand in the 1500 meters. Two weeks later, he set a world record of 1:49.7 in the 800 meters. He was virtually unbeatable indoors, winning six Wanamaker Miles at the Millrose Games and being named the outstanding track and field performer in the history of Madison Square Garden. Seven times, he set world indoor records for the 1500 and the mile. In 1938, running on Dartmouth College's oversized track, he set a world indoor mile record of 4:04.4, surpassing the outdoor record by a full two seconds. After earning a master's degree from the University of Iowa and a doctorate from New York University, Cunningham retired from competition in 1940 and for four years was director of physical education at Cornell College in Iowa. He and his wife later opened the Glenn Cunningham Youth Ranch in Kansas, where they helped to raise about 10,000 underprivileged children.

Records Held
World Record: 800 m - 1:49.70 (August 20, 1936 - )
World Record: 1 mi. - 4:06.80 (June 16, 1934 - )
World Record: 1 mi. - 4:04.40 (March 3, 1938 - )

Championships
1932 Olympics: 1,500 m (4th)
1936 Olympics: 1,500 m (2nd)
1932 AAU: 1,500 m (1st)
1933 AAU: 800 m (1st)
1933 AAU: 1,500 m (1st)
1932 NCAA: 1,500 m (1st)

Education
high school: Elkhart (Elkhart, Kansas), 1930
undergraduate: Kansas (Lawrence, Kansas), 1934

Occupations
Director of physical education
Rancher

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