Jack Torrance
refer to caption
Torrance in 1933
No. 34
Personal information
Born:(1912-06-20)June 20, 1912
Oak Grove, Louisiana, U.S.
Died:November 10, 1969(1969-11-10) (aged 57)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:285 lb (129 kg)
Career information
High school:Oak Grove (LA)
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

John Torrance (June 20, 1912 – November 10, 1969)[1] was an American shot putter and American football player. Torrance broke the shot put world record several times in 1934, his eventual best mark of 17.40 m remaining unbeaten until 1948. At the 1936 Summer Olympics he placed fifth.


Torrance studied at Louisiana State University, competing for the LSU Tigers in a variety of sports and events. Although shot put was his best event, he was also a good discus thrower, football player and basketball player.[2] In 1933, his junior year, he won his first NCAA championship in the shot, throwing a meet record 16.10 m (52 ft 10 in) to beat his challengers by more than two feet.[3] In addition, he placed third in the discus.[4] LSU won the NCAA team title that year, narrowly beating favored University of Southern California.[5][6] Torrance also won the national championship in the shot that year, throwing 15.68 m (51 ft 4+78 in) to beat Stanford's Gordon Dunn and John Lyman.[7] His winning mark at the NCAAs was the best in the world that year and only four inches short of František Douda's world record of 16.20 m.[8][9][10]

Torrance reached his peak in 1934, becoming the world's leading shot putter.[9] His main rival that year was John Lyman.[9][11] Torrance broke Douda's world record in Lafayette on March 24, throwing 16.30 m (53 ft 6 in).[11][12] Lyman tied that mark on April 14[11][13] and then threw 16.48 m (54 ft 34 in) on April 21, setting a new world record.[10][14][15] However, that record lasted for only six days as Torrance improved to 16.80 m (55 ft 1+12 in) at the Drake Relays.[10][14] In May, he reached 17.19 m (56 ft 5 in) in an unofficial exhibition.[9][11]

Torrance successfully defended both his NCAA title and his national title. At the 1934 NCAA championships he won with a put of 16.62 m (54 ft 6+916 in), defeating Lyman by almost a foot.[3][11][16] However, he failed to qualify for the discus final.[17] At the June 30 national championships in Milwaukee, Lyman improved to 16.70 m (54 ft 9+12 in), better than Torrance's NCAA mark; however, Torrance won with 16.89 m (55 ft 5+14 in), breaking his own world record.[7]

Torrance then went on a European tour. He set his final world record at Bislett in Oslo on August 5, throwing 17.40 m (57 ft 1 in).[9][10][18] In a separate competition in the same meet, he threw 16.73 m (54 ft 10+58 in) with his right hand and 11.95 m (39 ft 2+38 in) with his left hand to break the world record total for both hands by one centimeter.[19] In total, he had ten competitions of 16.45 m (53 ft 11+12 in) or better during 1934.[20]

While Torrance did not improve his record in 1935, he remained the world's leading shot putter.[9] He was national champion both in the indoors and outdoors event[1] and topped the world list at 16.60 m (54 ft 5+12 in), ahead of Germany's Hans Woellke and Lyman.[8] With the Olympic Games in Berlin less than a year away, he was considered not only a clear favorite for the Olympic shot put,[9] but one of America's top prospects in any event.[21]

Torrance, though, was badly overweight by the summer of 1936, weighing 325 pounds in July.[22] Attempts to reduce his weight ahead of the Olympics were unsuccessful.[23] He had also cut down on training.[20] Even so, he entered the Olympics as the world leader[24] and winner of the United States Olympic Trials.[20] In Berlin, he only managed 15.38 m (50 feet 5+12 in), placing him fifth.[1]

After the Olympics, Torrance turned his attention to other sports. He debuted as a boxer in December 1936, knocking out Owen Flynn in the first round.[25][26][27] His next three bouts were also quick knock-out wins.[28] In the aftermath of an aborted February 1937 fight, however, his manager Herbert Brodie was suspended and fined for attempting to fix his matches.[29] Torrance himself was found not to have played a part and continued his boxing career.[29] On April 28, 1937 he was knocked out in the second round by Abe Simon[30][31] and his boxing career subsequently went on a downward spiral.[32]

He subsequently worked briefly as a policeman, a car salesman and as custodian of the old Louisiana State House.[33][34] In 1939 he signed with Chicago Bears of the National Football League.[35] He played tackle in a total of fifteen games in 1939 and 1940.[36]

Torrance's shot put world record outlasted his sports career, remaining in the books until Charlie Fonville threw 17.68 m (58 ft 14 in) on April 17, 1948.[10][37] Torrance was inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1961.[38] He died in November 1969 of a heart attack.[38] In 2015, Torrance was inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame in New York City.


  1. ^ a b c Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Jack Torrance". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on June 13, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  2. ^ Graham, Dillon (April 25, 1933). "Jack Torrance, Louisiana State Star, Leads Attack on Southern College Track and Field Marks". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Hill, E. Garry. "A History of the NCAA Championships: Shot Put" (PDF). Track & Field News. Retrieved June 17, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Hill, E. Garry. "A History of the NCAA Championships: Discus Throw" (PDF). Track & Field News. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  5. ^ "Four World Marks Set in U.S. Meet". The Montreal Gazette. June 19, 1933. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  6. ^ "Favor Trojans to Take Meet". Prescott Evening Courier. June 15, 1933. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Mallon, Bill; Buchanan, Ian; Track & Field News. "A History Of The Results Of The National Track & Field Championships Of The USA From 1876 Through 2011". Track & Field News. Archived from the original on May 23, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Track and Field Statistics". trackfield.brinkster.net. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Jukola, Martti (1935). Huippu-urheilun historia (in Finnish). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö.
  10. ^ a b c d e Butler, Mark; IAAF Media & Public Relations Department, IAAF Statistics Handbook Daegu 2011, International Association of Athletics Federations
  11. ^ a b c d e "Mile-Runners and Shot-Putters Dominate 1934 Track And Field; Cunningham, Torrance Set New Marks". The Pittsburgh Press. December 19, 1934. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  12. ^ "Torrance Sets Shotput Record". The Milwaukee Journal. March 24, 1934. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  13. ^ "Lyman Breaks Shot Record". The Milwaukee Journal. April 15, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  14. ^ a b "Torrance Cracks Shot Record; Lyman Out to Regain Laurels". Lodi News-Sentinel. April 28, 1934. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  15. ^ "Lyman Sets 'Shot' Mark". The Milwaukee Journal. April 22, 1934. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  16. ^ "Torrance Gets Shotput Record". Spokane Daily Chronicle. June 23, 1934. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  17. ^ Bell, Brian. "Jack Torrance, Tiger Star, Fails to Qualify in Discus Throw". St. Petersburg Times.
  18. ^ "Torrance Cracks Shot Put Record". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. August 6, 1934. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  19. ^ "Yankee Track Aces Crack Records". The Spartanburg Herald. August 7, 1934. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  20. ^ a b c Hymans, Richard. "The History of the United States Olympic Trials – Track & Field". Track & Field News. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 26, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  21. ^ "Owens, Peacock, Torrance, Medica and Cunningham Big Olympic Hopes". Eugene Register-Guard. January 20, 1936. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  22. ^ Mickelson, Paul (July 14, 1936). "Dean Cromwell Takes Team of 10 Men Across the Atlantic on Trip". The Spartanburg Herald. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  23. ^ Gould, Alan (July 29, 1936). "Olympiad Track Tutors Disagree Over Negro Star". The Evening Independent. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  24. ^ "Athletics at the 1936 Berlin Summer Games: Men's Shot Put". Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on June 13, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  25. ^ "Big Jack Torrance to Make His Debut in Boxing Tonight". The Spartanburg Herald. December 7, 1936. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  26. ^ "Jack Torrance Scores Kayo In Debut Match". The Tuscaloosa News. December 8, 1936. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  27. ^ "Jack Torrance to Box In New Orleans Tonight". The Miami News. January 11, 1937. Retrieved June 17, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Jack Torrance Scores Fourth Straight Kayo". The Milwaukee Journal. February 2, 1937. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  29. ^ a b "Fines Assessed in Fight Run-Out". The Tuscaloosa News. February 14, 1937. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  30. ^ "Jack Torrance Loses In Bout to Simon". Lodi News-Sentinel. April 29, 1937. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  31. ^ "Big Jack Torrance Takes a Beating in Fight Ring". Lawrence Journal-World. April 29, 1937. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  32. ^ Hardwick, Leon (August 14, 1937). "Bomber Nears Peak; Footwork, Timing OK". The Afro-American. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  33. ^ "Paul Richards Boast Active Eleven Years". The Palm Beach Post. March 28, 1938.
  34. ^ "Jack Torrance Is Purge Victim". The Evening Independent. July 31, 1939. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  35. ^ "Jack Torrance Signs With Chicago Bears". The Milwaukee Sentinel. August 15, 1939. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  36. ^ "Jack Torrance NFL Football Statistics". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  37. ^ Mayhew, John F. (May 7, 1948). "Answer Question Why Charley Fonville Is Greatest Shot Putter in History". Ludington Daily News. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  38. ^ a b "Jack Torrance". Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
Records Preceded by František Douda Men's Shot Put World Record Holder (unofficial) March 24, 1934 – April 21, 1934 Succeeded by John Lyman Preceded by John Lyman Men's Shot Put World Record Holder April 27, 1934 – April 17, 1948 Succeeded by Charlie Fonville