Bernard Bernard

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 1
RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
SexMale
Full nameBernard (Otto Bernhard-)•Bernard (Trappschuh-, -Lytton-Bernard)
Used nameBernard•Bernard
Other namesOtto Bernhard Trappschuh
Born5 February 1890 in Tottenham, Greater London, England (GBR)
Died15 July 1975 in Guadalajara, Jalisco (MEX)
NOC Great Britain

Biography

At the age of 16, Bernard Bernard was told that he was unlikely to live beyond the age of 21 or 22. He did, and had an amazing impact on many lives. He won an Olympic wrestling bronze medal in 1920, was a journalist, as well as a health and fitness fanatic, travelled to all corners of the globe, stood as labour party candidate in a General Election, and was a friend of George Bernard Shaw and Tennessee Williams. Furthermore, Bernard was arrested on a multi-dollar mail order scam in the United States which claimed he could help short people get taller – and he was only 1.55 m!

Bernard was born in London of German parents in 1890, and his original name was Otto Bernhard Trappschuh. Because of World War I, he was one of the thousands of British-born Germans who changed their patronymic, in this case, from Trappschuh to Bernard and so, from 1920 he was known as Bernard Bernard. He changed his name again in October 1935 by Deed Poll, to Bernard Lytton-Bernard.

As a wrestler, Bernard started his career at the German Gymnastic Society in London and in 1910 won the National Amateur Wrestling Society’s Cumberland and Westmorland bantamweight title. He won the freestyle bantamweight title at the Finsbury Park Open-air competition in 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the war.

Trappschuh was a conscientious objector to which he appealed for that status. His appeal was heard by the Military Service Act tribunal who sat for the very first time in 1916. The editor of a physical culture magazine at the time, Trappschuh was asked: “What would you do if attacked by an armed assailant?” Pointing out that he had won two wrestling titles, he replied by saying: “I would try to put a lock on him that wouldn’t hurt him. In no circumstance would I take his life?” The appeal was dismissed and Trappschuh went on to serve in the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment. He saw action in France, Belgium, and Gallipoli and was awarded the British War l and Victory medals.

As Bernard Bernard he toured England in the 1920s with strongman Edward Aston, giving lectures on physical culture, and demonstrating wrestling and self-defence moves. Bernard was also the editor of Health and Efficiency magazine at that time, a passion he had had since his days as a teenager when he became a vegetarian in an effort to help his damaged heart as a result of contracting rheumatic fever.

Bernard had a varied life and career. He went to live in New York, and then California in the 1920s, working as a journalist. In 1928, however, he was involved in a mail order scam with Clara Louisa Glover, in what became known as the “Glover Height-Increasing Mail Order Fraud”, which grossed Glover and Bernard over $26,000 (close to $500,000 in 2019 dollars). Customers were also encouraged to buy Bernard’s two publications to help with their growth, “Health and Life” and “Correct and Corrective Eating”.

Bernard returned to England in 1935 and, after changing his name, stood as a Labour Party candidate in the Spelthorne constituency at the 1935 General Election, but lost by 16,196 votes. Lytton-Bernard left England as World War II was looming and, as a self-styled scientist, philosopher, and humanitarian, travelled around the world to India, South Africa, Cuba, Chile, and Nice, where he operated a school of finance, teaching people how to play the stock market. He ended up in Mexico, where he opened a health resort at Rio Caliente, and died in Mexico in 1975.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1920 Summer Olympics Wrestling GBR Bernard Bernard
Featherweight, Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze

Errata

Name previously given as Philip William Samuel Bernard, but this is not correct per contemporary sources