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Wednesday 5 August 2015

The Fighting Finn Typewriter Mechanic: A Champion of the Ring and the Typebasket

Was a contender: The fighting Finnish typewriter mechanic
Mali honoured the Boxing Typewriter Technician with a stamp
Now here's one for the next Typewriter Trivia Quiz:
Who was the only typewriter mechanic to win an Olympic Games boxing gold medal?
Clue 1: He was Scandinavian and won the bantamweight Olympic title in his home country.
Clue 2: He fought on the same Olympic finals card as two future world heavyweight champions. One of those two won the Olympic middleweight gold medal, the other was denied a silver medal in the heavyweight division because he was disqualified for cowardice.
On the medal podium in Helsinki: From left, John McNally of Ireland, Pentti Hämäläinen and Gennadi Garbuzov of the (Soviet Union.
Clue 3: It was August 2, 1952, and the venue was the Olympic host city of Helsinki.
So enough with the clues ...
Floyd Patterson as a 17-year-old middleweight in Helsinki in 1952
The 1952 Olympic middleweight champion was Floyd Patterson, who would knock out former light heavyweight world champion Archie Moore in Chicago on November 30, 1956, to became the then youngest world heavyweight champion in history, at 21 years, 10 months, three weeks and five days. Patterson was also the first Olympic gold medallist to win a professional heavyweight title. At the Polo Grounds in New York on June 20, 1960, Patterson became the first man ever to regain the world heavyweight title. The titleholder he knocked out that night was Ingemar Johansson, the Swede whose cowardice had deprived him of a silver medal in the Helsinki Olympics heavyweight final (the winner was American Ed Sanders).
Ingemar Johansson gets out of the way of Ed Sanders in the 1952 Olympic Games heavyweight title fight.
OK, so the answer to the trivia question is: Pentti Olavi Hämäläinen of Finland.
Looking for the print point: Pentti Hämäläinen defeats Henryk Niedzwiedzki in the second round of bouts at the Helsinki Olympics.
Hitting the space bar: Pentti Hämäläinen pounds Tom Nicholls of Britain up against the ropes in the 1952 Olympic Games bantamweight first round bout. Nicholls went on to win the featherweight silver medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, where he beat bronze medallist Hämäläinen in the semi-finals. Nicholls also beat Hämäläinen in the semi-finals of the 1955 European championships in Berlin.
Carriage release: Pentti Hämäläinen, about to board a bus in Helsinki in May 1951 as Finland's sole representative in the European championships in Milan, gets a "good luck" kick in the pants from Finnish boxing association executive director Arvo Salokangas. Hämäläinen won a flyweight bronze medal in Milan and another in the featherweight division in the 1955 European championships in Berlin.
One bout Pentti Hämäläinen did not win: Fighting for Finland in the match against Poland in Stalinograd in 1954 he was outpointed by Rospierski.
Pentti Hämäläinen was born on December 19, 1929, in Kotka on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. Officially he is listed as a "konttorikonemekaanikko" (office machine mechanic) but in fact he was a typewriter technician.
The 5ft 4 1/2in tall Hämäläinen had a natural fighting weight of about 120 pounds. He became only the second Finnish boxer to win an Olympic Games gold medal, after welterweight Sten Suvion in Berlin in 1936. Hämäläinen beat Ireland's John McNally in the 1952 Helsinki final. Four years later Hämäläinen won a bronze medal in the featherweight division at the Olympic Games in Melbourne. Those Games would have also given him the chance to get a close look at the Olivetti Lettera 22 and Studio 44, the first-ever official Olympic Games typewriters, both of which had just been launched in Australia at that time.
 The US and Europe (foreground) teams line up in Chicago in 1951. The US team, from front to back, is: Joe Castaneda, Nate Brooks, Ken Davis, Bobby Bickle, Willard Henry, Richard Guerrero, Bobby Jackson, Ernest Fann. The Europe team is Pentti Hämäläinen, Jacques Dumesnil, Pauli Dufva, Leif Hansen, Pavel Sovljanski, Stig Sjölin, Marcel Limage, Ingemar Johansson.
Hämäläinen represented Europe three times in Golden Gloves matches against the United States: in Chicago in 1950 he beat Pat McCarthy, and he beat Joe Castaneda in Chicago and Cincinnati's Ray Axt in Washington DC in 1951.
Hämäläinen's first pro fight, against Frenchman Jacques Ilari in 1957.
Hämäläinen then turned professional in 1957, winning five fights, but retired in 1959 after losing to Barcelona-based Moroccan Mimoun Ben Ali. Hämäläinen won six Finnish titles, two in flyweight (1950-51), two in bantamweight (1952-53) and two in featherweight (1954, 1956). Four of his brothers (Toivo, Arvo, Erkki and Aarne) were also national level boxers. I don't know how many of them fixed typewriters as well, though.
Pentti Hämäläinen died in his home town of Kotka on December 11, 1984, a week short of his 55th birthday.  

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