Best Deaf Athletes of All Time

Best Deaf Athletes of All Time

Deaf and hearing-impaired athletes participate nowadays in all kinds of sports, with limited or no modifications at all, but with impressive results, proving that a physical disability cannot deter their competitive spirit.If you were in need for some inspiration and motivation to start off your sporting career, we put together a list of some of the best deaf sports stars that went professional. Read on and be amazed by their stories.

If you were in need for some inspiration and motivation to start off your sporting career, we put together a list of some of the best deaf sports stars that went professional. Read on and be amazed by their stories.

Ian Petrie Redford
Ian Redford was a professional footballer from Scotland who excelled with spells at both Rangers and Dundee United. Born deaf in one ear due to nerve damage, Redford didn’t want to disclose his disability for fear he would be rejected by his teams, so he kept it sec ret from most.

He joined Rangers in February 1980 as a midfielder for a record fee at that point in time – £210,000 – and played for six seasons with the club, during which Rangers won four domestic cup trophies. Afterwards, Redford moved to play for Dundee United and played with them during the club’s most successful years. The deaf footballer scored the winning goal against Borussia Monchengladbach in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup in 1987.

Redford wrote about his condition and the anxiety it caused him in his autobiography entitled “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” which was published in November 2013.

Ben Cohen

Cohen is a former England rugby union player and activist. He enjoyed a 15-year career in rugby, even though he has lost 50 per cent of his hearing in both ears and also experiences tinnitus. He played for Northampton, Brive and Sale Sharks and was a fearsome player on the pitch.

The rugby star scored 267 points in total during his career and was part of England’s team in 2003 when the squad won the Rugby World Cup.

In an interview, Cohen confessed he was in denial about his deteriorating hearing, because he didn’t want to let his condition affect his performance. He has since undergone procedures to be fitted with hearing aids and has taken steps to learn lip reading. Also, he is involved in efforts to make rugby more accessible to the hard of hearing, especially young deaf players.

Terence Mike Parkin

A former Olympic swimmer for South Africa Terence Mike Parkin has left a mark in the deaf athletics world with his impressive performances. He won the silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in the 200 metres breaststroke, also competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics and a year later, in 2005, in Deaflympics in which he took home two gold medals..

Parkin used sign language to communicate with his coach and was determined to show everyone that deaf can do anything they set their mind to.

He has been a regular competitor in the Deaflympics games for deaf athletes, competing in both swimming and cycling.

Gerry Hughes

British sailor Gerry Huges, who was profoundly deaf from birth, is the first deaf man to sail single-handed across the Atlantic Ocean.

He graduated with a degree in Mathematics from the Open University and became acting head of Donaldson’s School for the Deaf in Edinburgh.

Huges began sailing when he was a little boy and his dream was to one day sail around the world. That’s exactly what he did in 2012/2013, becoming the first deaf man to sail solo around the world, passing the five great capes. He departed Troon, Scotland, on 1 September 2012 and returned to Troon on 8 May 2013.

Luther Hayden ‘Dummy’ Taylor

Luther Hayden Talyor, known as ‘Dummy’ Taylor, was a deaf-mute American pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1900 to 1908. He played for the New York Giants and Cleveland Bronchos.
Being the only successful deaf pitcher in Major League Baseball at that time, Taylor was regarded as a role model and hero in the American deaf community in the early 20th century.

The legendary pitcher used sign language to communicate and was a key part of the New York Giants Championship winning teams of 1904 and 1905. In order to be able to communicate with him, the whole team learned to use sign language.

James Burke

Although deaf, James Burke was one of England’s earliest boxing champions. He lived between 1809 -1845 and was the first modern boxer to kill his opponent, as bare-knuckle contests were still being held at that time. He died of tuberculosis at age 35 and in extreme poverty. Deaf culture holds a special place for him, though, with his name being added to the International Boxing Hall of Fame nearly 150 years later in 1992.


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