Erik Malmberg started wrestling before World War I in Göteborg, and after regional successes soon reached the Swedish top rank. He preferred Greco-Roman but was also successful as a freestyler. International success first came in 1921 with a third-place at the World Championships, placing fourth in 1922, both in featherweight Greco-Roman. At the Olympics he won bronze in 1924 and silver in 1928, both as a featherweight, before winning gold as a lightweight in 1932. At the European Championships, which replaced the World Championships after 1922, Malmberg won gold medals in 1929 lightweight freestyle and 1930 lightweight Greco-Roman, adding a 1926 silver in featherweight Greco-Roman, and bronze in 1930 lightweight freestyle. Malmberg was later an independent businessman.