Juan Antonio Samaranch

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Don Juan Antonio Samaranch y Torelló, 1st Marquis of Samaranch, Grandee of Spain[1] (17 July 1920 – 21 April 2010), simply known as Juan Antonio Samaranch in Spanish and Joan Antoni Samaranch in Catalan , was a Spanish sports official who served as the seventh President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 1980 to 2001.[2][3][4] Samaranch served the second longest term as the head of the IOC, the longest being that of Pierre de Coubertin (29 years).


Early life

Samaranch was born into a wealthy family in Barcelona. As a child, he was a keen roller hockey player.[5] During the Spanish Civil War, he was conscripted into the Republican forces in 1938, at the age of 18, to serve as a medical orderly. However, he was politically opposed to the Republic, and escaped to France. He quickly returned to Nationalist Spain under Francisco Franco and enrolled in the Spanish fascist movement Falange.[6]

Business and political career

After the defeat of the Republic in 1939, Samaranch studied commerce at IESE Business School in Barcelona. He had a short career as a sports journalist for La Prensa, which ended in his dismissal in 1943 for criticizing the supporters of Real Madrid C.F. after that club's 11–1 defeat of FC Barcelona, and then joined his family's textile business. He joined the board of La Caixa, Spain's largest savings bank, in 1984, and served as President of the board from 1987 to 1999. He remained as honorary president from his retirement in 1999 to his death.[6]

Samaranch served on the municipal government of Barcelona, with responsibility for sports, from 1955 to 1962. He was a procurador (member of the lower house) of the Cortes Españolas during the last decade of the Franco regime, from 1967 until the restoration of democracy in 1977. From 1967 to 1971, he also served as "national delegate" (minister) for sports, and from 1973 to 1977 he was the president of the diputación (governing council) of the Province of Barcelona. He was appointed Spanish ambassador to the Soviet Union and Mongolia in 1977, immediately after the restoration of diplomatic relations between the countries: this post helped him to gain the support of the Soviet bloc countries in the election to the presidency of the IOC, held in Moscow in 1980.[6]

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