I canít believe heís lived this long!
I have a Daddy thatís old enough to be my grandfather.
I canít believe heís lived this long!
1971 Pan American Games1972 Olympics
With a full house watching, former Olympian, Jim Culhane performed a flawless round-off backhandspring, back tuck on the competition floor at the 1974 NCAA Championships at Penn State University.† What makes this unusual is that he was not in the competition and he was not wearing a uniform, or anything else for that matter!†
Let's just go to Kurt Thomas's book "On Gymnastics" pages 172-175....
"Jim Culhane was undoubtedly the most notorious. Not only becuase he streaked an NCAA meet, but becuase he hung on in gymnastics long after most coaches wanted him to quit-and continued to get better. If he hadn't, nobody would have put up with his hell-raising. But he was always just good enough to have a shot at making an international team.
In 1968, for example, he was looking pretty good at the Olympic Trials until one evening when he and his wife decided they couln't stand to sit around the Ramada Inn in Colorado Springs. So Culhane hot-wired one of the team rental cars and they took off for a couple hours. When the coaches found out about it, they weren't amused.
"What do you want, a plane ticket home or money?" they asked.
"The money," said Culhane, who then hitchhiked all over the country visiting old friends, eventually anding up in Mexico City where he sat in the stands and watched the 1968 Olympics.
Culhane went souvenir hunting one day during the 1971 Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia. He took a shine to an official Pan Am Games flag that was flying near the central pavilion. It was white with a red Aztec-Inca emblem, and he just had to have it. So he cut the rope, hauled down the flag, stuffed it into his U.S. warmups, and strolled off without any idea hat he had started an international incident. A large band of Cubans had watched Culhane's little act of piracy and they weren't amused either. Culhane heard a lot of yelling in Spanish and turned around just in time to catch a haymaker in his nornrimmed glasses. His head was cut just above the right eye and he might have been in real trouble if a grop of Americans hadn't interceded in his behalf. The brouhaha was reported in newspapers all over the world and Culhane even made the network news back in the State. To escape twenty years at ahrd labor, he ahd to write a letter of aplolgy to the Governor of the Pan Am village. In return, he was given a small souvenir flag he could have bought for half a peso at a concession stand.
Undeterred by the controversy, Culhane sompeted in the 1972 Olympics and was still in top shape as late as 1976, ten years after his graduation from Penn State. These days, Culhane is still pretty much a hitchhiker. He has taught gymnastics from Campbell, Californis, to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, but he would like to land a permanent head coaching job so he can stay in the sport. Of course, if he cant' find one here, he may follow the lead of Mark Davis,k who, when he isn't cavorting with Mae West, is the national gymnastics coach of the Virgin Islands.
I guess people still think I'm an oddball," says Culhane, "but the things I've done aren't unprecedented and some of the stories about me have gegun to take on a life of their own. take the streaking incident at the 1974 NCAA's. It was apopular fad back then and I picked up thirty-five dollars in dares just by doing it. Hell, the ancient Greeks used to do it for free. Then there was the story that said I had parachuted into a training camp in Heidelber, West Germany. I've never even been to Heidelberg. Of course, I have parachued in the nude."
Now there's something even the ancient Greeks never did.
Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Jim started gymnastics at the belated age of 15 at John Marshall High School where he later became Sectional all-around champ in both his junior and senior years. Jim then went on to Penn State University whre he was a member of the national championship team in 1965. Jim also placed 5th in the National AAU Championships and performed in the World Gymnaestrada in Vienna, Austria that year. Jim then went on to Southern Connecticut State University where he earned a Masters Degree in Physical Education.
Jim was a memeber of the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team, the 1971 Pan American Games Team, and competed for the U.S. in numerous other international competitions. In all he was a national team member from 1965 through 1975.
Jim's coaching career includes West Point Mility Academy, East Stroudsburg University, and Cal. State Northridge as well as clubs in California, Ohio, and Texas.
Jim has produced numerous Junior National Team Members as well as Senior National Team Members Kerry Huston and Brian Yee who also was a World Championship Team member.
For the past 21 years Jim has been a P.E. instructor at Fleming Middle School in Houston. He was also a club owner from 1982 through 1996. Personal interests include skydiving. Jim has performed approxiately 1780 jumps over the last 32 years and is now a certified tandem jump instructor.
Jim and his wife, Paulette, reside in Tomball, Texas with Jim's son, Cody, who is 10 years old.
Last revised: 8/17/2002