Wolfgang Bochow with Irmgard Gerlatzka at the 1968 European Championships in Bochum (Photo: Horst Rosenstock)
Legends: Wolfgang Bochow
Date: 8/7/2020 10:23 AM
Published by : Alan Raftery
Meet the man who was written into German sporting history for badminton, as well as two other sports. 

Born Braunschweig, during World War Two, Bochow grew up in West Germany, and through his impressively versatile sporting skills, engraved his name in the history books. 

Bochow’s first love was badminton and became rated among the world's best players in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His tall stature brought a powerful game, with what many described as one of the strongest backhands in the game.

How it all began
Bochow started playing badminton at a local club at the age of 14. This is quite late for a top-level player by today’s standards, but as he remembers, he was just following the popular trend of the time.

-There was a big badminton wave in the fifties, so I joined in!

In just one year of playing, turning 15, Bochow could already call himself a district champion in mixed doubles. He then moved up to senior level following this success and subsequently won the German National Championships.

Alongside this, Bochow somehow managed to fit in his practise of his second sport, field hockey. Just how he did it, Bochow simply explains. 

- On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I was in the hockey club, the other days I played badminton.

However, playing so much sport did lead to a few scheduling problems for competitions. Bochow shared a story of when he had to fly from Bonn to Hanover by helicopter in order to take part in the German Badminton Team Championships and then a Bundesliga hockey match on the same day. However, despite his best laid plans, difficult conditions over the Teutoburg Forest prevented the helicopter from continuing its flight. Bochow was then forced to complete the rest of the journey by taxi. Time was running out, so he put on his sports kit in the car, managing to arrive just on time for the game to start.

In 1965, the then 21-year-old began studying at the Cologne Sports University. He became a lecturer there since graduating. Together with a colleague, he taught around 300 badminton students. At the university, Bockow acquired another prestigious title. By writing a thesis on computer-aided game analysis, he received his doctorate in Sports Science. Thus, assuming the full title of Dr Wolfgang Bochow. 

Top of Europe
In the Guinness Book of Records, he is listed as the most successful German badminton player of all-time. Between 1963 and 1975 he won the German Championship 15 times, eight of them in the singles, two in men's doubles and five in mixed doubles. A highlight of his career came in the form of the gold medal at the 1972 European Badminton Championships in men's singles. This broke up the title run of the Swedish sensation, Sture Johnsson, in the third edition of the European Championships. Between 1968 and 1976 he won eight other medals at this biennial event; three bronzes and a silver in mixed doubles, a silver and two bronzes in singles, and a bronze in men's doubles. Bochow was also a men's singles semifinalist in the 1971 All England Championships and a mixed doubles finalist with Irmgard Latz (Gerlatzka) in 1970.

Just four years after becoming European Champion in badminton, in 1976 he became German field hockey champion and remarkably 18 years later, aged 50, in 1994 he became the German tennis senior champion in doubles.

Later years
Bochow settled in Kleineichen and began running a badminton school in the Scharrenbroich. His wife, not to be outdone by his love for sport, also ran a tennis school. 

For a man who joined badminton because of a trend, he certainly managed to leave his own mark. He flew the flag for people who love sport both physically and academically. Sport was his life. 

Dr. Wolfgang Bochow passed away on 14 September 2017 at the age of 73.

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