As a teenager Rudolf Ismayr competed in swimming, athletics and gymnastics. He became interested in weightlifting by reading “Winnetou,” a series of books about a fictional Native American chief by German writer Karl May. He was one of the first athletes who was able to earn money with product endorsements. In 1937 he joined the Nazi-Party NSDAP, while from 1940 to 1945 he fought in World War II and was not released from British captivity until 1946. In addition to his two Olympic medals, Ismayr placed second at the 1938 World Championships as a middleweight. He set 11 middleweight world records from 1931-35 – three in the press, two in the snatch, one in the clean & jerk, and five in the total. He also won three European championships and at the Berlin Olympics spoke the Olympic Oath on behalf of the athletes. In Germany, he won seven national titles and took part in the national championships for 22 years (1930-52). In 1938, he competed for Germany in four international meetings against the United States. His last international medal win was the silver medal at the 1938 World Championships.
After the World War II, Ismayr made headlines as a pacifist, a party official of the German Peace Union DFU, and a categorical opponent of the re-introduction of compulsory military service. He was therefore denied any promotion in the Bavarian civil service as an administrative lawyer. Ismayr was actually one of the very few German 1936 Olympic athletes who actively distanced themselves from the Nazis after the war. In 1980 he was guest of honor at the German Weightlifting Championships and argued vehemently against the boycott of the 1980 Moskva Olympic Games. When he died in 1998, Ismayr was the oldest living German Olympic champion.