At the young age of seventeen, Bob Mathias accomplished what many athletes are unable to achieve in their whole career - he won a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics. The gold medal in the decathlon competition made him the youngest winner ever of an Olympic track and field event, and was a springboard for an outstanding athletic, and later, political career.
Mathias was an athlete. During high school, he played basketball for four years, was the fullback of the football team for three years, and was a track star. He competed in events including the discus, shot put, high hurdles, high jump, and sprints. His track coach suggested that Mathias compete in a decathlon, a ten-event competition. Starting with his 1948 Olympic win, Mathias, four years later, became the first to win consecutive Olympic decathlons. In his career, Mathias won eleven decathlons, four national AAU championships, and, three times, set world records. In 1952, while attending Stanford University, Mathias set another record: the first to compete in the Olympics and the Rose Bowl in the same year. Stanford lost the Rose Bowl, but Mathias won his second Olympic gold medal in the decathlon, the first person in history to win two gold medals in the sport.
At age 21, Mathias retired as an athlete. He had recently married, and had to earn a living. He joined the Marines in 1954, and served as captain of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves until 1965. In November 1966, Mathias was elected to Congress. He served for four terms as the congressman from California. From 1977-1983 he was the director of the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1983, he was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, as a member of the first class of inductees. In 1984, he started Bob Mathias, Inc., where he served as president. He retired at age 68 in Fresno, California.
Mathias was initiated into Tulare Chapter DeMolay in Tulare, California, in 1945. He is a Legion of Honor recipient and a Chevalier. Mathias was inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on April 14, 1989.
"My experiences in DeMolay most certainly were greatly beneficial in my career in sports, politics, and now, in the business world. I am grateful that DeMolay helped me learn many important values that have always remained with me. "