Arno Niemand is a 1956 graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca NY, where he wrestled competitively on the varsity team. He was later inducted into the Cornell Hall of Distinguished Wrestling Alumni. He went on to earn his MBA in 1958 from the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. He is the retired founder of Body Bar Systems, a fitness equipment company which sponsored many USA Wrestling programs.
Throughout his life, Mr. Niemand has continued to support the sport of wrestling, and in 2008 received the FILA Gold Star, which is the highest award given to an individual by the world governing body of wrestling.
In 2009, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, earning the Order of Merit. In 2011 he was awarded the USA Wrestling Lifetime Achievement Award and named Honorary Cornell College Alumnus.
“Arno Niemand has greatly contributed to the sport of wrestling, from his early days as a wrestler to his current role as author and historian, and he is deeply respected and admired by the wrestling community,” said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling executive director.
Besides wrestling, Arno was the president of the family business, Niemand Industries, from 1960 to 1990. He then launched the fitness product Body Bar which went on to sponsor the first U.S. women's wrestling team when that sport was added to the 2004 Olympics. Distance running was Arno's second love; he served on the board of the New York Road Runners Club and was an early proponent of the inclusion of women in distance running competitions.
Always a generous and caring man, Arno served on many nonprofit boards and received multiple honors for his efforts. These organizations included The Mountain School in Vershire, VT, an innovative environmental studies program attended by his beloved son, Kurt Phillips Niemand (1970-95); and Attention Homes (now TGTHR) in Boulder, CO. His contributions to Cornell University include a wrestling arena and a women's softball field.
With his megawatt smile and irresistible sense of humor, Arno was a friend to everyone he met and loved by all who knew him. In his own thoughtful way he made a difference in many lives, and he will be dearly missed.
Hall of Fame Order of Merit recipient and USA Wrestling supporter Arno Niemand passes away