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Happy 45th birthday wheelchair basketball wheelchair!

Birthday cake Happy birthday! Image credit: Valadrem

In 2016, the first wheelchair basketball specific purpose wheelchair celebrates its 45 birthday, after first having been created in 1971 in the United States by Bud Rumple.

The first real wheelchair basketball specific chair. Photo credit:  Gary Odorowski.  Image originally appeared in “Wheelchairs Can Jump” by  Armand Thiboutot.

Pictured to the right, the chair was invented by Rumple at a time when he was serving as the head coach of the Detroit Sparks, a team that had won 6 national championships.  He would go on to coach the gold medal winning US men’s national team at the 1976 Summer Paralympics.  Rumple had worked for metal fabricating companies, which gave him some of the skills that allowed him to revolutionize the chair and consequently the sport.
His welded frame chair was revolutionary in the sport for a number of number of reasons.  The first was that it was much lighter than the folding day chairs that were used in the sport at the time.  It weighted only 16 kg / 35 lbs.  The frame was also more rigid than other chairs.  These things contributed to making it much more maneuverable.
The chairs were portable, and stored in suitcases between uses. Rumple’s players would enter the gym with their suitcases and then assemble their chairs that consisted of various pipes to the surprise of other teams.  Rumple’s involvement on the national and international level quickly helped grow the use of the custom welded, lightweight, rigid frame chairs that are currently used by wheelchair basketball players around the globe.
Laura Hale
About Laura Hale (2569 Articles)
Laura Hale is a sport journalist, specializing in Paralympic and disability sport news. Prior to helping found ParaSport-News, she spent two and a half years working as a journalist on Wikinews, a citizen journalism site. As a journalist, she has covered the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and a number of other sporting events. She has additional experience with Paralympic sport having worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the Australian and Spanish Paralympic Committees. She has a PhD in Communications from the University of Canberra.

3 Comments on Happy 45th birthday wheelchair basketball wheelchair!

  1. Hi,

    Wheelchair basketball was originally played in the USA in 1946 and not 1971, a fact that that is documented in “Wheelchairs Can Jump,” the book authored by Stan Labanowich and myself. The Rumple Wheelchair which accompanies your article was, as you correctly stated, invented in 1971. Kindly correct the substitution of 1971 for 1946 in your next issue.


    Tip Thiboutot

    Tip Thiboutot

    • Laura Hale Laura Hale // March 7, 2016 at 7:51 pm // Reply

      The article is not talking about the history of wheelchair basketball. I’m aware of when it was invented. It is specifically talking about the chair.

  2. Jim Sorrentino // April 13, 2017 at 12:55 pm // Reply

    I was a member of the NW Kiwanis Club and met a quadriplegic man (I can’t remember his name) who was organizing a wheelchair team and he indicated they needed light weight wheelchairs. I approached our club and, with the help of radio newsmen, we raised enough funds to purchase the wheelchairs. At the time he named them the Detroit Sparks.
    I lost track of the team and wondered if they still exist.

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