Rudi Ball

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Competed in Olympic Games (non-medal events)
Full nameRudolf Victor "Rudi"•Ball
Used nameRudi•Ball
Born22 June 1911 in Berlin, Berlin (GER)
Died19 September 1975 in Johannesburg, Gauteng (RSA)
Measurements163 cm / 63 kg
AffiliationsBerliner Schlittschuhclub, Berlin (GER) / Diavoli Rossoneri, Milano (ITA)
NOC Germany
Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 1


Rudi Ball Ball was born in Berlin in 1911, the youngest of three brothers, after Gerhard and Heinz. His father Leonhard was a Jewish textile merchant, while his mother was a Christian from the eastern city of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad). All three brothers would play ice hockey and all three won the German Championship with their local Berliner SC team. All three would also play for Germany.

But in 1933, with the political situation darkening as Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power, all three Ball brothers left, taking up offers to play in Italy and Switzerland and avoiding the growing persecution of Jews in their home country.

Rudi Ball was the best pre-war ice hockey player in Germany, but is best remembered for his 1936 Olympic appearance. He was the only Jewish player in the German Olympic team, and was initially not even selected. Because another star player, Gustave Jaenecke refused to play if his friend Ball was not on the team, the Germans recanted, and Ball was allowed to compete.

Ball could not match his 1932 performance, when Germany won the bronze in the four-team tournament at Lake Placid. As the third-placed European team in Garmisch, Ball did win a European Championship bronze, having won the title in 1930. He played on eight German championship teams between 1928 and 1944 and won the prestigious Spengler Cup in Davos three times.

In 1948, he emigrated to South Africa, joining his brothers Heinz and Gerhard, both former ice hockey players. There he continued to play, even winning the South African Championships in 1951. In his later years, Ball was described as charming and impeccably dressed, while displaying occasional glimpses of the dark “Berlin humour” which had sustained him in tougher times. In 2004, Rudi Ball was elected in the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1932 Winter Olympics Ice Hockey (Ice Hockey) GER Rudi Ball
Ice Hockey, Men (Olympic) Germany 3 Bronze
Ice Hockey Exhibition, Men (Olympic (non-medal)) Germany 2
1936 Winter Olympics Ice Hockey (Ice Hockey) GER Rudi Ball
Ice Hockey, Men (Olympic) Germany =5

Special Notes


Date of birth often seen as 27 March 1910 - this is incorrect per information from the Landesarchiv in Berlin.