Juan Torruella, Sr.

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameJuan Rafael•Torruella del Valle, Sr.
Used nameJuan•Torruella, Sr.
Born7 June 1933 in San Juan (PUR)
Died26 October 2020 in San Juan (PUR)
Measurements183 cm / 80 kg
NOC Puerto Rico


Juan Torruella was a sailor who competed at four Olympic Games (1964-76). He also sailed on Danza from Puerto Rico to Spain 1992, on an expedition to the Canadian sub-Arctic in 1994, and on a 31,000 km bypass of the Southern Hemisphere in 1996. He won silver medals at the 1966 and 1974 Central American and Caribbean Games. However, Torruella’s sailing is not how will be best remembered.

Juan Torruella graduated from law school at Boston University and studied at the School of Public Administration of the University of Puerto Rico. He began his legal career as a legal officer for the associate judge of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pérez Pimentel, in 1957, but later served as a federal judge for more than four decades.

In 1974 President Gerald Ford appointed him as a federal judge to the district court in Puerto Rico. In 1984 he was named to the Boston-based US Court of Appeals court, and he became chief justice of that court from 1994-2001. He was the first Hispanic member of the First Circuit court.

Torruella stood up for the rights of his native Puerto Rican citizens several times and also supported the rights of Hispanic citizens. Because of Insular Case law, decided by the US Supreme Court in 1901, citizens of US territories do not receive full rights of US citizens, something that Torruella fought to overturn. He also fought against Puerto Rican citizens discrimination in US Supplemental Security Income cases. Perhaps his most publicized case came when Torruella ruled on the appeal of 2013 Boston Marathon bomber and murderer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which overturned his death sentence.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1964 Summer Olympics Sailing PUR Juan Torruella, Sr.
One Person Dinghy, Open (Olympic) 31
1968 Summer Olympics Sailing PUR Juan Torruella, Sr.
Two Person Heavyweight Dinghy, Open (Olympic) Radamés Torruella 28
1972 Summer Olympics Sailing PUR Juan Torruella, Sr.
Two Person Heavyweight Dinghy, Open (Olympic) José Rodríguez 27
1976 Summer Olympics Sailing PUR Juan Torruella, Sr.
Three Person Keelboat, Open (Olympic) Puerto Rico 22

Olympic family relations

Special Notes