The Army Olympian: Carleton Brosius in the 1920 Olympics

Wisconsin has a long and proud Olympic tradition—one that is generally associated with the Winter Games. Athletes from the Badger State like Bonnie Blair, Eric Heiden, Dan Jansen, Mark Johnson, and others gained fame in speed skating and ice hockey. But four years before the first Winter Olympics, a Wisconsin native participated in the Games of the VII Olympiad in Antwerp, Belgium while serving as an active duty officer in the United States Army.


Carleton L. Brosius, a Milwaukee native, earned a sterling reputation as a physical trainer in the Army in the early twentieth century. In 1920, on the heels of World War I, the United States decided to use military personnel for much of its Olympic team, and Brosius was selected as captain of the U.S. Olympic tug of war team and an alternate on the fencing team. He accompanied hundreds of other soldiers and sailors to Antwerp.


Learn more about Brosius, his Olympic experiences, and the 1920 Games through this exhibit featuring the pictures and mementos he brought back from the VII Olympiad.

Pre-Olympic Life: Brosius the Athlete

Literally growing up in a gym, Carl Brosius displayed an exception affinity and aptitude for athletics.

Pre-Olympic Life: Brosius the Soldier

Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Brosius joined the military. He served during the Spanish-American War and World War I, and rose to the rank of officer in both the Wisconsin National Guard and the regular Army.

Olympics: Princess Matoika

Brosius's transportation to Antwerp for the Olympics caused an enormous amount of controversy among athletes and in the American press.

Olympics: Opening Ceremony

Learn about the nations who participated in the 1920 Olympics (and those who were excluded), find out which traditions began at Antwerp in 1920, and see pictures of many of the teams from the Parade of Nations.   

Olympics: Games of the VII Olympiad

The 1920 Olympics, so greatly affected by World War I, saw incredible athletic performances and records broken. While recognizable, there were some significant differences between the VII Olympiad and today's Games.

Olympics: Brosius the Olympian

Leading one Olympic team and qualifying as an alternate in another, Brosius participated in the 1920 Olympics.

Post-Olympic Life: Brosius the Veteran

Following his Olympic experience, Carl Brosius continued pursuing his passion for physical fitness in a variety of ways while maintaining his connection to the military.
The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is an educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.