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Alf Goullet

Sport: Cycling

Born: April 5, 1891

Died: March 11, 1995

Town: Newark

Alfred Goullet was born April 5, 1891 in Australia and moved to the United States as a teenager. A champion cyclist in his native country, Alf came to America to race professionally. He settled in Newark, which offered cycling tracks in several parks, as well as a newly constructed velodrome. He specialized in six-day races, the most popular cycling events at the time, where two-man teams switched off in competitions that often covered more than 2,500 miles on high-banked indoor and outdoor tracks. These races also had sprint components as well. Alf excelled in both areas.

The cycling season in the US was year-round in the teens and 20s, and Alf followed the money. In 1912, at a major competition in Salt Lake City (the western hub of US cycling) he set new marks in sprint races of two-thirds, three-quarters and one mile. He went to Europe in 1913 and tore up the indoor tracks there. He and Joe Fogler won a six-day event in Paris, defeating a pair of Tour de France champions.

Alf became a US citizen and enlisted in the Navy during World War I. In the 1920s, he continued to win—and draw huge crowds. Near the end of a six-day race at Madison Square Garden, the fire department had to cordon off the building because he could not safely hold any more fans. Alf won that race—and $50,000—teamed with Italian rider Mauricie Brocco. It was not unusual for Alf to be paid an appearance fee just for competing in a race. In 1925, he won at least 400 races, often capturing three or four in a day.

Alf retired at 34 and parlayed his fame into a successful career in life insurance. He palled around with promoter Tex Rickard for a time and nearly bought the NFL frandchise in New York, which eventually went to the Maras. In 1968, he was inducted into the MSG Hall of Fame and, 20 years later, into the newly formed US Bicycling Hall of Fame in Somerville. After getting mugged in Newark at age 94, he moved to Red Bank, where he lived out his final years. He passed away at 103, but not before his rel=markable career was recalled in a 1990 Sports Illustrated profile.


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