Deaf Sports People

Many deaf sports people have proven that they can be just as successful as those without a hearing impairment. Some of the most inspiring deaf sports people include:

James “Deaf” Burke (1809-1845).


One of England’s first boxing champions got his nickname for being hearing impaired. Despite that, he managed to win more than 3 hour heavyweight championship against Simon Byrne from Ireland. Unfortunately, Byrne was so severely injured that he died three days later which made it difficult for Burke to get opponents in Britain.

Rajeev Bagga (1967-).

Indian national badminton champion who now plays for Britain is the only deaf person who reached the main stage of the All England Open Badminton Championships (in 1990) so far. He also won five gold and one silver medal at the Deaflympics, the All-England veteran men’s singles in 2008 and two gold medals (2003 and 2007) at the World Deaf Badminton Championships.

William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy (1862-1961).


“Dummy” as the American centre fielder in Major League Baseball was nicknamed went into history as the most prominent deaf baseball player of all times. He is also credited for introducing hand signals that are used by the umpires to the present day. In his time, the word “dumb” was associated with inability to speak rather than an unintelligent person and Hoy himself preferred to be called by his nickname “Dummy” over his first name.

Terence Parkin (1980-).

This South African swimmer proved that deafness can’t stop him from achieving his dreams. In 2000, he did not only represent his country at the Summer Olympics but he also won a silver medal in 200 metres breaststroke. In the same year, he also won two silver medals at the FINA Short Course Swimming World Championships. He also won bronze at the 1999 Pan Pacific Championships, gold at the 2001 Goodwill Games, silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, one gold and one silver at the 2002 FINA Swimming World Championships and bronze at the 2009 FINA Swimming World Cup.

Ildiko Ujlaky-Rejto (1937-).


One of the greatest female fencers in history of Olympics won as many as 7 Olympic medals between 1960 and 1976. Due to her deafness, the Hungarian-Jewish fencer communicated with her coaches by writing on a paper. She was also included in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Lee Sung (1980-).

South Korean professional golfer who was born deaf can now hear thanks to operation he underwent in 2010. But he achieved greatest success as a professional golfer before he was able to hear. He won the 2007 Bangkok Airways Open and the 2007 Omega Mission Hills World Cup where he and Lee Seung-Ho represented South Korea. Sung currently plays at the Asian Tour.