Biography: ZWICKEL, Walter “Walt”

ZWICKEL, Walter “Walt”
Inducted: 1977

Walt Zwickel was not a gymnast, a coach, or a judge in the world of gymnastics. I can’t even write that he ever saw a gym meet although I’m sure he witnessed many. The fact is that there are numerous U.S. Gymnastic Hall of Fame Inductees who were selected for the honor because their contributions were truly appreciated. I think Gerald George and George Nissen would be in similar categories. They weren’t Olympians, but they made important contributions; e.g., Gerald George in the area of gym safety and George Nissen in the area of gym apparatus. So, it seems reasonable to honor a man who, just as the saying, “Clothes make the man,” Zwickel made the clothes that made the gymnasts look good.

General: Walt Zwickel was the official clothier for the U.S. Men’s Olympic Gymnastics Teams through several Olympics. He was a fifth generation tailor; in fact, his grandfather outfitted the Austrian National Team and was tailor by appointment to Emperor Franz Joseph. Zwickel operated two men’s fashion stores in Philadelphia. In addition, he was the fashion editor for the Modern Gymnast magazine for a period of time. It was this writer’s experience that our gymnastic team’s competition apparel in the ’60 & ’64 Olympic Games were as well tailored if not the best tailored uniforms competing in the gym. I cannot tell you that they were Zwickel tailored, but I suspect it was during those years that he provided his contribution to gymnastics.

Source: Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005, who also provided the Zwickel photo. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, Web Manager