The United States Sports Academy bestowed Honorary Doctorates on two leaders in the Olympic Movement during its 29th annual Awards of Sport celebration at the Daphne, Ala., campus.
Honored for their achievements were: Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu, who successfully reformed the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and transformed boxing; and Dr. Norbert Müller, who is recognized around the world as the leading expert on the founder of the Modern Olympic Games and the Olympics.
Wu said during his acceptance of the Honorary Doctorate that he his biggest motivation for everything he does is the children of the world.
“My inspiration is the youth,” he said. “I’ve tried to do everything that was in the best interest of the youth and the future.”
Müller’s honor comes on the 150th anniversary of the birth of French baron Pierre de Coubertin, who organized the first Modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896. The 66-year-old Müller, professor emeritus at Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz where he has taught sport science-related courses since 1976, said one of his passions has been celebrating the life and works of Coubertin, who lived from 1863 to 1937.
“We have an opportunity and duty to preserve the Olympic Movement according to Coubertin’s ideals and ethics, not only for sport, but also for life in the world of the 21st century and for generations to come,” Müller explained.
Wu, a 66-year-old world-renowned architect, also conceived, founded and designed the $61 million Juan Antonio Samaranch Memorial Museum in Tianjin, China to commemorate the memory and legacy of the former International Olympic Committee (IOC) president from 1980 to 2001. Wu, who is from Taiwan, unveiled the memorial in April three years after Samaranch’s death. The 62,000-square-foot museum features the vast majority of Samaranch’s Olympic collection of 16,000 items that he donated to Wu shortly before his death.
Wu has long been involved and embodied the Olympic Movement. As the AIBA president since 2006, he helped to dramatically rid boxing of corruption after replacing the controversial Anwar Chowdhry of Pakistan in the role. Wu’s reforms led to arguably the most successfully Olympic boxing competition ever at the 2012 London Games.
Some of his AIBA reforms included increased marketing, new television contracts and the installation of scoreboards to allow fans to see how judges score fights in real time. Wu also has been lauded for bringing about Cuba’s historic first professional boxing bout in more than 50 years and returning the country to the professional boxing circuit.
Wu, an IOC member since 1988 and executive board member since 2012, was a candidate to replace Jacques Rogge as the organization’s president in September. However, Germany’s Thomas Bach earned election.
During his bid for IOC president, Wu noted that all the continents except Africa have hosted the Olympic Games and he vowed to help the continent host one in the future. Wu served as part of the evaluation commission for the 2016 Summer Olympics that are being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Müller has served as the president of the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee since 2002. His research has primarily focused on Coubertin, exploring his philosophy and values that he instilled into the Olympic Movement and providing historical perspective on the early Games. Müller has published several world-wide recognized publications about the life and works of Coubertin, including “Olympism” that features the writings of the Olympic Games founder.
Müller, who earned his Ph.D at the University of Graz in Austria, has conducted research since 1968 on the Olympic Games, including doing field research at all Olympic Games since 1984.
He is well known for his contributions to furthering Olympic education. In 1974, his article, “What Can Olympic Education Mean to Us” introduced the expression “Olympic education” for the first time in the Olympic and academic worlds. He has supervised 186 master and eight doctoral theses on Olympic issues and guided about 2,500 students to summer courses in ancient Olympia and to all the Olympic Games from 1988 to 2012. In addition, Müller has been invited as a guest professor for Olympic studies at nine universities worldwide, including in China and Canada.
In his home country, Müller has helped create and oversee many Olympic education programs in Germany as a past chairman of that country’s National Olympic Academy.
He serves on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Commission for Culture and Olympic Education. He was also named a lifetime member of the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece. He was a member of the IOC Reform Commission, “IOC 2000,” with other prominent people, such as Henry Kissinger, a former U.S. Secretary of State, and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a former United Nations Secretary-General.
Müller also was nominated by Pope Benedict XVI to the Council of Laics of the Vatican, where he serves as an expert for sport and physical education.