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Hall of Fame legend Jim Peckham, 81, passed away in Massachusetts

This photo of Coach Jim Peckham was from the late 1970's, when he was coaching at Emerson College, the Boston YMCU and with numerous U.S. international teams. Courtesy of Thomas Blair

USA Wrestling received word today that Jim Peckham, 81, an Olympic athlete and coach and long-time leader in the sport, passed away last evening in Braintree, Mass.

Peckham had been ill with complications from Alzheimer's Disease and was being treated in an assisted living facility in recent months.

He was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2000 for his achievements and service to the sport.

Peckham competed in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia in Greco-Roman. He was a nationally ranked in both freestyle and Greco-Roman during his competitive career.

He became one of the nation’s top international coaches, serving as head coach for the 1976 Olympic Greco-Roman team and assistant coach for the 1972 Olympic freestyle team. He also coached on numerous U.S. teams at the World Championships, Pan American Games, World Cup other and international tours.

Peckham was also a successful college wrestling coach, guiding Harvard University for a decade, as well as coaching at Emerson College, where he also served as athletic director.

He was a legend in New England, a mentor to numerous athletes and coaches from across the region. Peckham coached many international wrestlers at the Boston YMCU. Among his athletes was Kenny Mallory of Boston, who did not wrestle in a high school program, but learned the sport from Peckham and others at the YMCU and went on to win a NCAA Div. I title for Montclair State.

During his career, he helped mentor numerous World and Olympic medalists for the United States, one of the pioneers who build the United States into a World power in our sport.

Peckham was a respected wrestling clinician, and ran a successful wrestling camp at his home, which was known for its intensity.

The Peckham family has announced arrangements for Jim Peckham. There will be a showing on Friday, August 26 at the McDonald Funeral Home at 40 Sea Street in North Weymouth, Mass, from 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A memorial service will be held for Jim Peckham at the McDonald Funeral Home at 9:30 a.m. with a luncheon to follow.

The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to:

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame
405 West Hall of Fame Avenue
Stillwater, OK 74075


Emerson College Athletic Trust Fund

Attn: Diana Chevignard in Institutional Advancement
120 Boylston Street, 7th floor
Boston, MA 02116

Peckham leaves his wife of 60 years Jean, daughter Diana, son Matthew and many other relatives and dear friends.

Should anyone want to send a remembrance to his wife Jean, the address 69 Harding Ave, Weymouth, MA 02188

James Cameron Peckham
Distinguished Member, Class Of 2000

His contributions to wrestling span a half-century. And yet, Jim Peckham's enthusiasm for this great sport is as intense today, if not more so, than it was 50 years ago. He never had the opportunity to wrestle in high school or college, but at the age of 14 he looked for any opportunity that might bring him to a gymnasium. After successful ventures in swimming and football, he was able to convince coaches at MIT and Milton Academy in Massachusetts that even at the age of 15 he had a love for athletic training and competition, especially in wrestling. They took him at his word. During the next de decade, Peckham competed nationally in freestyle and Greco-Roman. In 1954, he became the Eastern AAU champion and was voted the outstanding wrestler of the competition. In 1956, he was selected as a member of America's Greco-Roman Olympic team. It was in Melbourne that he lost a very controversial decision that cost him the opportunity to wrestle for a silver or gold medal. In 1962, he started a coaching career that was to span three decades. His collegiate coaching career at Emerson College covered the years 1964-1983. He then took over the Harvard University program where he remained until 1994. On the international level, Peckham served as U.S.A. head coach for 38 major international competitions including the Olympic team of 1976, World Championship teams of 1974, '75 and '82; and the Pan American Games team of 1979. During his international coaching career, he coached 19 World and/or Olympic champions in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. As a man whose accomplishments as a competitor, coach, administrator and official have made a lasting impact on the sport of wrestling, James Cameron Peckham is honored as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
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