Louis Zamperini bigraphy, stories - American middle distance runner

Louis Zamperini : biography

26 January 1917 -

Louis Silvie Zamperini (born January 26, 1917) is a World War II prisoner of war survivor, inspirational speaker, and former American Olympic distance runner.

Early life

Louis Zamperini was born January 26, 1917 in Olean, New York, to Anthony and Louise Zamperini. He had an older brother Pete, and two younger sisters, Virginia and Sylvia. The family moved to Torrance, California in 1919, where Louis attended Torrance High School. The son of Italian immigrants, he spoke no English when his family moved to California, making him a target for bullies. His father taught him how to box in self-defense. Soon he claimed to be "beating the tar out of every one of them... but [he] was so good at it that [he] started relishing the idea of getting even. [He] was sort of addicted to it.". Usc.edu. Retrieved on 2012-09-03.

To counteract Louis' knack for getting into trouble, his older brother Pete got him involved in the school track team. In 1934 Zamperini set a world interscholastic record for the mile, clocking in at 00:04:21.2 at the preliminary meet to the state championships.Berkow, Ira (2003-02-15). . nytimes.com. Retrieved on 2012-09-03.. Cs.uml.edu. Retrieved on 2012-09-03.. Trackandfieldnews.com. Retrieved on 2012-09-03.. Trackandfieldnews.com. Retrieved on 2012-09-03. The following week he won the championships with a 04:27.8 That record helped him win a scholarship to the University of Southern California and eventually a place on the 1936 U.S. Olympic team in the 5000 metres, at 19 the youngest U.S. qualifier ever in that event.Hymans, Richard (2008). . usatf.org

While attending USC, Zamperini was a member of The Kappa Sigma Fraternity and lived in the fraternity house along with his brother.

Post-war life

In 1946 he married Cynthia Applewhite, to whom he remained married until her death in 2001. After the war and suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder, Zamperini became a born again Christian after attending a crusade led by evangelist Billy Graham in 1949 in Los Angeles. Graham later helped Zamperini launch a new career as a Christian inspirational speaker. His wife Cynthia was instrumental in getting him to go to Billy Graham's meetings and not leaving before he was converted. One of his favorite themes is "forgiveness," and he has visited many of the guards from his POW days to let them know that he has forgiven them. Many of the war criminals who committed the worst atrocities were held in the Sugamo prison in Tokyo. In October 1950, Zamperini went to Japan, gave his testimony and preached to them through an interpreter (a missionary named Fred Jarvis). The colonel in charge of the prison encouraged any of the prisoners who recognized Zamperini to come forward and meet him again. Zamperini threw his arms around each of them. Once again he explained the Christian Gospel of forgiveness to them. The prisoners were somewhat surprised by Zamperini's genuine affection for those who had once ill-treated him. Most of the prisoners accepted copies of the New Testament which had been given by the Gideons.

For his 81st birthday in January 1998, Zamperini ran a leg in the Olympic Torch relay for the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. While there, he attempted to meet with his chief and most brutal tormentor during the war, Mutsuhiro Watanabe, who had evaded prosecution as a war criminal, but the latter refused to see him. In March 2005 he returned to Germany to visit the Berlin Olympic Stadium for the first time since he competed there.. US Dept of State press release (2005-03-10)

Torrance High School's home football, soccer, and track stadium is called Zamperini Stadium, and the entrance plaza at USC's track & field stadium was named Louis Zamperini Plaza in 2004. In his 90s, Zamperini continues to attend USC football games and befriended star quarterback Matt Barkley in 2009.Jeff Fellenzer, , Los Angeles Times, October 29, 2009, Accessed October 29, 2009.

In October 2008, Zamperini was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago, IL.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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