Lee Allen, long-time contributor to the sport of wrestling as an Olympic competitor and coach, as well as men’s and women’s collegiate coach, died of congestive heart failure in California Monday. He was 77.
Allen holds the unique distinction of competing in the Olympic Games twice, once in each of the Olympic styles, according to USA Wrestling. He was a member of the U.S. freestyle team at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, competing at 125.5 pounds. Four years later, he wrestled Greco-Roman at the 1960 Rome Olympics, placing eighth in Greco-Roman.
Two decades later, Allen was named head coach of the U.S. Greco-Roman team for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which did not compete because of the U.S. government boycott of the Games. In addition, he was a four-time head coach of U.S. Greco teams competing at the World Championships in the 1970s.
Born in Kansas on December 28, 1934, Lee Dale Allen came to the west with his family during the Dust Bowl of 1938. He was a four-time Oregon state champ for Sandy High School, where he was undefeated. Allen then competed for the now-defunct wrestling program at, again compiling a perfect record.
In addition to his considerable accomplishments on the mat, Allen made even more of a positive impact on the sport as a coach.
According to the Clackamas Review, Allen’s coaching career began in Oregon high schools, first at Klamath Falls, where he served for a year, before taking over the wrestling program at Clackamas in 1963.
After Clackamas, Allen headed south to California, where he coached for 37 years at the college level, including more three decades atin San Bruno where he launched a women’s program in addition to the men’s program.
More recently, Allen had served as head coach of women’s wrestling at, where 26 wrestlers claimed All-America honors and another four earned national championships, including his two daughters, Sara Fulp-Allen and Katherine Fulp-Allen. Allen was the 2009 Women’s College Wrestling Association coach of the year. He retired from Menlo two years ago.
“He was incredibly important to wrestling,” said USA Wrestling National Women’s Coach Terry Steiner. “This is a tremendous loss for wrestling. He has always been actively involved, not just with the women’s program but with all of wrestling. He was a great person as well. He is a huge part of the history of our sport.”
“Today Menlo lost an incredible coach, but an even better person,” said Menlo athletic director Keith Spataro. “Lee was one of the most amazing men I have ever known, and I will forever be grateful for the time we had together.”
Allen is a member of several halls of fame, including the Portland State Athletics Hall of Fame, the Skyline College Hall of Fame, the California Wrestling Hall of Fame, and, just last year, the Oregon chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Allen is survived by his wife, Joan, a P.E. teacher at El Granada Elementary School (California) and both his daughters. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made public.
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