Reginald 'Snowy' Baker
1884 - 1953
Reginald Leslie 'Snowy' Baker, Australia’s greatest all-round athlete, competed in 26 different sports, and excelled in all of them. He was an international footballer, swimmer, boxer and diver, and was in championship class as a horseman, rower, wrestler, polo and water polo player, track athlete, fencer and gymnast. He remains the only Australian to have represented the nation in three separate sports at the Olympic Games, and he played rugby union for Australia against the touring Great Britain team in 1904.
At the London 1908 Olympics, he competed in the boxing, swimming and diving, winning a silver medal in the middleweight boxing division after losing narrowly on points in a hard-fought encounter with Britain’s J.W.H.T. ('Johnny Won’t Hit Today') Douglas. Douglas, who earned his nickname as a stonewalling cricketer, later captained England on a Test tour of Australia. Baker’s Olympic boxing performance has been matched by only one other Australian – light-welterweight Grahame ‘Spike’ Cheney, who won silver in Seoul in 1988. Baker was a member (with swimmers Frank Beaurepaire, Theo Tartakova and Frank Springfield) of the Australian 4 x 200m freestyle relay team that won its heat and finished fourth in the final. He had little preparation for his springboard diving event, and finished sixth in his heat.
Baker had a varied post-Olympic career, most notably as a boxing referee, boxing promoter, entrepreneur, writer, actor, film-maker, Hollywood stuntman and director of an exclusive country club in California. During the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, he was both Australia’s team attaché and a perceptive correspondent for the Sydney Referee.
Harry Gordon, AOC historian