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John Pius Boland

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 2
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 2
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameJohn Mary Pius•Boland
Used nameJohn Pius•Boland
Born16 September 1870 in Dublin (IRL)
Died17 March 1958 in Westminster, Greater London, England (GBR)
AffiliationsUniversity of Oxford, Oxford (GBR)
NOC Great Britain
Nationality Ireland


The son of a Dublin baker, John P. Boland became an orphan at age 12. His adoptive parents taught him to play tennis, although he also enjoyed cricket and rugby. After a spell at London University, he was went up to Christ Church College at Oxford. In 1894, John Boland invited a Greek acquaintance, Konstantinos Manos, to speak at the Oxford Union. His guest chose as his subject the revival of the Modern Olympic Games. Boland and Manos subsequently became close friends and Boland was invited to spend the Easter holidays of 1896 in Athens. Although John Boland had no intention of competing in the Olympic Games, his host, who was a member of the Organizing Committee, prevailed upon the 26-year-old Irishman to enter the lawn tennis tournament. Boland had little experience of domestic tournament play and none whatsoever of the international competition but, surprisingly, he succeeded in wining two Olympic gold medals. Boland took the singles title by beating Dimitrios Kasdaglis of Egypt in three sets and then joined with Fritz Traun of Germany, whose original partner had withdrawn because of injury, for a comfortable victory in the men’s doubles. John Boland benefited from a broad educational background. He attended the Catholic University School in Dublin and Edgbaston Oratory, and then studied at the Universities of Oxford, London and Bonn, a final academic grounding which put him in good stead later in life. Boland was Called to the Bar in 1897 and was the Member of Parliament for South Kerry from 1900 to 1918. He was General Secretary of the Catholic Truth Society for 21 years and a member of the Commission for the foundation of the National University of Ireland. Up until his death, which appropriately occurred on St. Patrick’s Day, he was a keen advocate of the Irish language being an essential subject in the matriculation examination of the National University which he had helped establish to some 50 years earlier. Two of Boland’s five daughters also achieved recognition in their chosen fields. As Mrs. Crowley, Honor Boland became a national political figure as the Dáil Éireann representative for East Kerry from 1945-66, and Bridget Boland was a notable playwright who will be remembered for her highly-acclaimed work, “The Prisoner”. As his biographer Cyril White wrote, Boland himself “passed away, most appropriately for an Irishman, on St. Patrick’s Day, 1958”.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal Nationality As
1896 Summer Olympics Tennis GBR IRL John Pius Boland
Singles, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
Doubles, Men (Olympic) Fritz Traun 1 Gold

Special Notes