David Butler was born in England and was educated at Eton School but also spent part of his childhood in Canada. He emigrated to what was then Southern Rhodesia to become a farmer and rancher in Matabeleland and went on to build a successful business empire which included a charter aircraft company. Butler entered politics in the fifties, became a member of the Rhodesian parliament and rose to the leadership of the United Federal Party prior to the 1965 election. It was his party’s defeat in that election that effectively ended his Olympic career as the victory of the Rhodesian Front and its’ policy of continued white minority rule eventually led to the suspension of Rhodesia from the Olympic movement.
Butler and partner Christopher Bevan recorded the best performance by their nation before Rhodesia transformed into Zimbabwe when they finished a close fourth in the Flying Dutchman class at the 1960 Rome Olympics. His next appearance, with Anthony Crossley, in 1964 was less successful as they suffered mechanical problems and failed to finish in the top ten. After missing the 1968 Olympics due to Rhodesia’s exclusion he was chosen for the 1972 Olympic regatta in the hope that sanctions against his country would be removed in time for him to participate. He had already started preparations to compete in Kiel when he was killed in a road accident in Belgium that also seriously injured his wife. His ashes were scattered, via one of his own crop spraying aircraft, over his cattle ranch at Mbalala.
|Games||Discipline (Sport) / Event||NOC / Team||Pos||Medal||As|
|1960 Summer Olympics||Sailing||RHO||David Butler|
|Two Person Heavyweight Dinghy, Open (Olympic)||Christopher Bevan||4|
|1964 Summer Olympics||Sailing||ZIM||David Butler|
|Two Person Heavyweight Dinghy, Open (Olympic)||Anthony Crossley||11|