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George Nissen
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    (February 1, 1914-April 7, 2010)
    Born in Blairstown, Iowa
    Gymnast at the University of Iowa
    Invented a device in 1934 used for rebound tumbling
    Heard the word 'trampolín' in Mexico (Spanish for 'springboard') in 1937 and trademarked the name 'trampoline'
    Along with U. of I. gymnastics coach Larry Griswold established the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (1941)
    Died in San Diego from pneumonia complications at age 96
    He just missed being named to the 1932 Olympic diving team for the U.S.
    He didn't marry until he was 36, and named his first daughter Dagmar.
    Promoting his trampoline in Cold War era Soviet Union, he stated, 'I saw a lot that would really make you want to be anti-Communist, but I kept myself very clean politically.'
    So many knock-offs of his invention came about with lawyers hounding him to sue, he had enough, and in the early 1960s he let the trampoline trademark lapse.
    He became owner of the Iowa Cornets women's basketball team, but never earned a profit (the league quickly folded).
    In 1980, his dream of seeing trampolining become an Olympic event was dashed when the U.S. boycotted the Summer Games in Moscow, and the event was dropped.
    He graduated high school at age 16.
    He won three NCAA gymnastics championships while attending the U. of I.
    He got the idea for the trampoline while watching acrobats at the circus fall into safety nets and bounce back upright.
    He joined the U.S. Navy during World War II.
    He sold 100 trampolines to the military during the war to help condition pilots and parachutists.
    He and two college buddies took a trampoline/tumbling/comedy act (calling themselves the Three Leonardos) to carnivals, fairs, school assemblies and YMCAs, promoting the trampoline, and the idea caught on shortly thereafter.
    Trampolining peaked in the 1950s, and saw backyard jumpers such as Vice President Richard Nixon, Yul Brynner, King Farouk and Madman Muntz participating.
    For a publicity photo (see pic) he rented a kangaroo, opting for the $150 over the $50 rental because he was told 'the one for $150 won't kick you so hard.'
    He secured 35 patents, including ones for padded bleachers, self-inflating seat cushions and 'spaceball' (a volleyball-trampolining combo).
    The 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney made his dream come true as a trampoline event was held.
    He personally traveled to Beijing to view the trampoline event at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
    He said of inventing, 'Every invention is a rearrangement of well-known things to get an unusual result,' and 'If you're real organized, that stifles creativity...You've got to watch kids. You learn from kids. And sometimes you have to act like a kid.'

Credit: Scar Tactics

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