Hugh Boustead

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameJohn Edmond Hugh•Boustead
Used nameHugh•Boustead
Born14 April 1895 in Nuwara Eliya, Madhyama (SRI)
Died3 April 1980 in Dubai, Dubai (UAE)
AffiliationsSouth African Scots Regiment
NOC Great Britain


Born in Ceylon, the son of a tea plantation owner, Hugh Boustead left at the age of nine for schooling in England. Educated at a naval college, he was a midshipman in the Navy but deserted to fight in the trenches of World War I with the South African Scots Regiment. He was pardoned after winning the Military Cross at the Battle of Arles and later fought with the Cossacks against the Red Army on the Russian Steppes.

Recruited for the British modern pentathlon team for the Antwerp Games he finished in the middle ranks in all five disciplines and completed the event in fourteenth position. He was also boxing champion of the British Army. His career as a diplomat, soldier and colonial officer saw him posted around East Africa and the Arabian peninsular and he fought in campaigns in both Sudan and Ethiopia. Commander of the Sudan Camel Corps in the thirties, Boustead then led some of the forces that helped restore the Emperor Haile Selassie to the throne of Ethiopia. After World War II Boustead served for many years as a diplomat in Yemen.

One of his school teachers was the legendary mountaineer George Mallory and Boustead himself was an explorer and climber. He took part in an expedition to Kangchenjunga, the world’s third largest mountain, in 1926 and for the mapping ability shown during this trip, he was invited to take part in the unsuccessful 1933 British expedition to climb Mount Everest. He also took part in expeditions to map the Libyan Desert and the icy wastes of Greenland. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1965 and published his autobiography The Wind of Morning in 1971.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1920 Summer Olympics Modern Pentathlon GBR Hugh Boustead
Individual, Men (Olympic) 15