The Kangasniemi Museum of Sports

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Are you interested in the gold medal from the 1968 Summer Olympics
held in Mexico?
The collections of the "Golden Kalle" await you!

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Kaarlo Kangasniemi – From a son of a smith into Olympic Winner

We Finns have plenty of which to be proud. One of these things is one that can perhaps be witnessed far in the rest of the world. He is a sportsman, who has received no parks or statues in his name, but who none-the-less remains in our Finnish memory for decades as the first Finnish Olympic champion in weightlifting. He is known both as Kaarlo Kangasniemi and Golden Kalle.

In the village of Leineperi, within the county of Kullaa, a ninth child was born to Juho and Alma Kangasniemi, on the fourth day of February, 1941. The boy was named Kaarlo Olavi. The first six children were baptized with names beginning with L and Kaarlo was third in the series of K-initials, which would later still be expanded by two more names.

Juho Kangasniemi was the village smith of Leineperi and the sons of the family would assist their father at the smithy from an early age. Thus, of course, they grew strong. Kaarlo and his brothers all grew up to be strong men, a fact best proven by how five of them ended up lifting weights more or less seriously.

Kaarlo was, like many children, a prankster, who by the age of schooling knew he would grow up to be a sportsman. Already as a child Kaarlo seemed to love breaking records as well, for he accomplished one of his records early on by covertly breaking a total of 46 glass windows on the granary of Leineperi. Upon hearing of the Olympics held in Helsinki on the radio, the 11-year-old swore that some day he too would be an Olympic champion.

Kaarlo joined the sports league Porin Pyrintö and competed for the first time at the age of 17, in a match between the members of the league. Thus begun his rise to the top of the world. During the following years his technique, strength and the man himself would grow, and future was filled with Olympic games and World Championships.

In 1968, Olympics were held in Mexico and Kaarlo Kangasniemi was among the participants. And it can be said, the rest is history. Kaarlo won the Olympic gold medal in a time when the Soviet Union seemed to be breeding powerful lifters. With the Olympics begun the "Golden Kalle -boom" as well as his victorious career.

In 1988, Kaarlo Kangasniemi donated away his rewards, expressing a wish that they would be placed for all to admire in the house of his birth in Leineperi. The Kangasniemi Museum of Sports, founded and maintained by the Local History and Museum Association of Kullaa is the eight sports museum of Finland. Tens of thousands of visitors from around the world visit it per year, to marvel at and enjoy the old-fashioned atmosphere of the village. In the small cottage of two rooms and a kitchen lived the parents of Kangasniemi and eleven children. Within the cottage you can find the original furniture and interior.

The Kangasniemi Museum of Sports is open:

Every day from 10 am to 4 pm.
Other times upon request.

Door price 2 EUR.


Local History and Museum Association of Kullaa
The Information Centre of Leineperi Ironworks
Phone: +358-2-5591551, +358-400-790591