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Olympic athlete and coach Lee Allen, 77, passed away today in California

Lee Allen coaching his daughter Katherine Fulp-Allen at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in Las Vegas, Nev. Larry Slater photo

USA Wrestling has received word that Olympic athlete and coach Lee Allen, 77, passed away today in California.

Allen has been one of the nation’s most successful athletes and coaches during a long career of service to the sport.

“Lee Allen was a unique contributor to the sport of wrestling,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender. “He was a great wrestler, a great coach and a great family man. Our sympathy goes out to his wife Joan, his daughters Sara and Katherine and the entire Allen family and their friends.”

He holds the unique distinction of competing in the Olympic Games twice, once in each of the Olympic styles.

Allen was a member of the 1956 Olympic freestyle team at the Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, competing at 125.5 pounds. He also competed in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy, placing eighth in Greco-Roman at 134.5 pounds.

Allen was on the first U.S. team to compete in a World Championships, placing sixth at 136.5 pounds in freestyle at the 1961 World Championships in Yokohama, Japan.

Allen was also the head coach of an Olympic team, leading the 1980 U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman team, which did not compete in the Olympics in Moscow, Soviet Union because of the U.S. government boycott of the Games.

He also was head coach of four U.S. Greco-Roman World Teams: 1973 (Tehran, Iran), 1977 (Goteborg, Sweden), 1978 (Mexico City, Mexico) and 1979 (San Diego, Calif., USA). The 1979 team placed a strong fourth in the team standings in San Diego, with three individual medalists, one of the best Greco-Roman World performances during that era. He also served on the coaching staff of many other U.S. international teams in all three Olympic styles.

Allen served many years as the wrestling coach at Skyline College in San Bruno, Calif., where he led the men’s wrestling program for 32 years while incorporating a women’s program as well.

He finished his coaching career as a pioneer in women’s wrestling, serving as the head coach for the women’s team at Menlo College in California and helping develop the sport on the national and international levels.

Along with his wife Joan Fulp, Lee coached their two daughters, Sara Fulp-Allen and Katherine Fulp-Allen. Both have been highly successful women wrestlers on the age-group and Senior levels for USA Wrestling, making Women’s Team USA on a number of occasions. Both were college national champions and Outstanding Wrestlers competing for their father at Menlo College. Sara won a U.S. Senior Open national title, and Katherine was a University World champion, among many other honors. Both daughters are resident athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

Allen helped start the BAWA (Bay Area Wrestling Association), and led and coached the Peninsula Grapplers club for both men and women.

Lee was a four time undefeated champion at Sandy High School in Oregon, and competed in college for the University of Oregon. He has been inducted into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame, among his many honors.

“He was incredibly important to wrestling,” said National Women’s Coach Terry Steiner, who worked with Lee often within the women’s program. “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.”

Arrangements for Lee Allen are not yet available. USA Wrestling will provide complete updates when they are provided.
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